From Oregon to the Middle East

From Oregon to the Middle East

It's a small world after all.
On Friday morning, November 19 on a Lufthansa flight from Vienna to Frankfurt I sat next to a woman dressed in black and wearing a headscarf. I was a little hesitant to start a conversation with her because she was reading a book in a foreign language and I was not sure if she spoke English, but when I did, what unfolded makes a wonderful story.

May Al-Jaser teaches biology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My home being Portland, Oregon, revealed the first coincidence. May attended Lewis and Clark University in Portland before moving to Texas. She had met her husband there and has fond memories of our fair city.

What does your husband do? Sulieman Al-Herbish is the Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development. The members of OPEC have, for a number of years funded projects to assist developing countries to better themselves and their people. I was flabbergasted. The objectives of Global Envision and the OPEC Fund to benefit the people in developing countries by means that help them to improve themselves are very similar. I will be exploring with Mr. Al-Herbish how we can assist each other in this effort.

On a broader note, this experience was another example of a pattern that I have seen many times. When you open yourself to getting to know a stranger there a multitude of different ways that good things happen.

As we were parting May expressed her deep sadness that the people of our two countries and cultures have experienced a divide between us that is daunting. Talking to each other builds at least a small bridge.

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