The Serviette encourages people to share their tables in a way that bridges cultural and religious gaps, shows creativity, and serves others.
Who's behind The Serviette?
It's just me, Mrs. Serviette. (That's not my real name, by the way.)
What made you want to start The Serviette?
My life is a lively mix of continents, cultures and conversations. I've fed and been fed at tables in four continents so far. I grew up in South America attending an international school with kids from around the world. I spent most of my twenties in North America (where my parents come from) and then I ate daal and roti for a few years in South Asia. Now I live in Western Europe — Germany, to be exact — one of the most culturally diverse places I have ever lived. Mr. Serviette (my husband) and I are of different nationalities, which means that even when it's just the two of us, we have cross-cultural conversation.
Even when it's just the two of us, we have intercultural conversation.
We are learning about opening our home to people of all faiths and cultures, sharing meals and conversation. We just know that our lives have been changed by families and individuals who were generous enough to open their homes to us in the past, and we want to learn to have a home where people of all faiths feel welcomed and wanted — where we can have conversations about things that really matter.
On this blog I want to collect stories and thoughts about engaging people of other cultures, religions or backgrounds in our homes. If you have a hospitality experience you'd like to share (whether you were the host or the hosted) or a question you'd like to see answered on this blog, please send it to us through the Contact page.
What made you the cross-cultural hospitality expert?
Actually, I'm not! But from living with Hindus, hosting Muslims, and befriending people of other worldviews I've realized that hospitality plays a vital role in the development of real, meaningful relationships. In the past year we've had people from almost every continent and from many major world religions at our table in Germany. We have also hosted quite a few family and friends who come from Canada, USA, Brazil or India to visit us and sleep on the futon in our kitchen. I've realized that I have a lot to learn about hosting guests, especially those of other cultures.
Inviting an LGBT, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim neighbour over for a meal might seem way out of your comfort zone, but through the stories and articles you read here, I hope you'll find that hosting people who think differently than you is more possible than you expected, and more important than you realized.
We live in an era when everyone wants to be an expert on something. However, this blog is not an attempt to label myself an expert. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize that there is to learn! Think of this blog as an elaborate excuse to interview people who are experts in particular areas, and share their insights with both me and you! I hope to make this blog a helpful resource.
Why did you choose the name The Serviette?
A serviette, for those who don't know, is a table napkin. I chose this name for at least four reasons:
- The word "serviette" starts a cross-cultural conversation, because in much of the world the word serviette is used, but in the USA the same thing is called a "napkin". (In some parts of the world, a "napkin" is the last thing you'd be talking about at the dinner table!) I want this blog to be a cross-cultural conversation.
- The word "serviette" also starts an intergenerational conversation, because in Canada, our grandmas called them serviettes but most of the younger generation calls them "napkins". I think hospitality is best learned from people who have practiced it for many years, and I want to engage experienced hosts and hostesses in conversation here.
- Serviettes offer an affordable but beautifying touch to mealtime. Serviettes don't cost a lot, but they show that the person planning the meal has given some thought to aesthetics. In the same way, through this blog I want to encourage people to use creativity and foster true beauty around their tables.
- The word serviette comes from the French word servir (to serve). Opening our homes to people of other cultures or worldviews can be enriching, rewarding and fun. But it can also be costly, time-consuming and challenging. Jesus Himself washed the feet of His guests. Hospitality is more than entertaining people, it is serving them.