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LEADER RESOURCE 1: Culture and Hospitality

The Meredith Tax quote is taken from the pamphlet "The Power of the Word: Culture, Censorship, and Voice" by Meredith Tax with Marjorie Agosin, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ritu Menon, Ninotchka Rosca, and Mariella Sala, published by the Women's World Organization for Rights, Literature and Development , August 1995.

"The Arabs Used to Say" by Naomi Shihab Nye from Prayers for a Thousand Years (Harper San Francisco: San Francisco, CA, 1999).

Culture is who we are and who we are becoming. It is the food we put on the table, the way we cook it, the utensils in which we eat it, the relations between the people who sit at the table and the people who cook and serve, what is done with the leftovers, what is discussed during the meal, what music, dancing, poetry or theatre accompany it, and the social and spiritual values of those present — for when we say culture, we include the visions, dreams and aspirations of humanity. — Meredith Tax, writer and political activist

The Arabs Used to Say

by Naomi Shihab Nye

The Arabs used to say,

When a stranger appears at your door,

feed him for three days

before asking who he is,

where he's from,

where he's headed.

That way, he'll have strength enough

to answer.

Or, by then you'll be such good friends

you don't care.

Let's go back to that.

Rice? Pine nuts?

Here, take the red brocade pillow.

My child will serve water

to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!

I was not preparing to be busy.

That's armor everyone put on

at the end of the century

to pretend they had a purpose

in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.

Your plate is waiting.

We will snip fresh mint

into your tea.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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