About this website
The Serviette encourages people to share their tables in a way that bridges cultural and religious gaps, shows creativity, and serves others. Do you want to engage with your LGBT, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim neighbour, but feel way out of your comfort zone? Does having someone who seems really different than you or your family over for a meal intimidate you? If so, you’re in the right place. Cross-cultural hospitality makes us feel awkward, too, but we think it’s so important that it’s worth pushing through the awkward. The Serviette exists to provide cultural insights and creative ideas to foster brave, self-sacrificing hospitality among followers of Jesus in the West.
Why this website is needed
The West is becoming increasingly culturally and religiously diverse. While some respond fearfully, by isolating themselves from people who think differently than they do, we believe that a correct response involves engaging our God-given tool called “hospitality” as a way to open gracious, truth-filled conversations between people of different backgrounds and worldviews. But there are extra obstacles to overcome in learning to welcome and engage with people of other cultures. Hospitality is already hard work, but hospitality to people who eat, think, dress, smell and/or believe differently than us is extra hard work. The Serviette seeks to provide easy-to-digest tips and training to make offering cross-cultural hospitality a bit easier, and maybe even a bit more fun.
About Mrs. Serviette
I (Mrs. Serviette) have always lived a cross-cultural life, and been interested in how people of other cultures think and live. My husband and I live in Western Europe — Germany, to be exact — although neither of us are German. We have had guests from every continent and from many major world religions at our table, sharing meals and conversation. We want to learn to have a home where people of other faiths feel welcomed and wanted — where we can have conversations about things that really matter. I don’t pretend to be a cross-cultural hospitality expert, 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 our Interviews series, I talk to people who are experts in a particular area of cross-cultural hospitality and share their insights with our readers. I hope that through The Serviette, you’ll realize that building relationships with people who think differently than you is more possible than you expected, and more important than you realized. We feel freer to share our experiences with cross-cultural hospitality by not using our real names.
About 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 website to inspire cross-cultural conversation.
The word "serviette" also starts an intergenerational conversation, because in Canada (where my parents come from), 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 — sometimes at great cost to ourselves.