A Colorado Couple’s Experience: Hosting Our Muslim Friends

For more than 10 years, my husband Mike and I have been able to host students from other countries in our home as university students, to share meals, and to share events. We have been so enriched, and really privileged. 

It all began with my son learning about Uyghur Muslims.  We visited him in western China where Uyghurs have lived as a Turkic people.  It was an amazing experience and the students we hosted always made us want more. Since then, we always tried to visit the families of the students we hosted when possible.

When we went to visit the family of our Uygur student, the family slaughtered a ram in honor of us.  They showed incredible hospitality, humor, hard work, and pride in prayer and tradition.  They took us to the home of a poet, since poetry is a big part of the Uyghur culture. The poet was not at home, but the wife said, "come into the yard and pick apricots so you can eat!!” The father in the family did that and shared the apricots with us. No matter where we went, we felt welcomed and truly at home. 

There was a time in the US when we drove to Royal Gorge, Colorado, and took two Muslim students who had just completed their courses, to Royal Gorge  where they did a bungee jump. We were able to take a video of their screams and their enjoyment of the risk they took and shared. One of the students had put her PhD work aside and faced her fear of heights. She left that day feeling a sense of pride and always says it was such a memorable moment for her. The most beautiful part of life is realizing that we share so much more, we are more alike than we are different.  

Through the years we have learned some basic language skills and even learned (and subsequently forgot) how to write basic Uyghur phrases.  We still know enough Uyghur verbal language to bring smiles to other Uyghurs when we meet them. Mike learned to make naan and polou and kabobs so that we can enjoy the food part of that wonderful culture whenever the mood strikes us. We also shared a lot of our culture with them, each thanksgiving our home was filled with diverse backgrounds. We all came to the table with different recipes. The table was always full of smiles and warmth, and the conversation was never mundane.

We taught our two young Uyghur students, who became like daughters to us, how to drive and they are both now safely navigating the streets of America.  We taught them to love peanut butter and country music.  We connected right away on a shared love for gardening, snow, hiking, and biking. Being in Colorado truly made it a blessing to explore and share our common interests easily.

Over the years, the most fun has been for us to watch how quickly young foreign students stumble into the strange idioms and phrases in the English language and how they end up mastering that part of our language. Their English was superb and our Uyghur is abominable; doesn't speak well for us after all the time we spent interacting with them.

It just continues. I have so much respect for traditions, and culture of all the Muslim people we have interacted with over the years. I hope through this blogsite you can enjoy and take pride in the culture which roots us all in prayer and caring. We recently had a friend that had a stroke.  I immediately texted an Egyptian Muslim friend and two Uyghur friends, asking them to pray.  Because I know they will, and that we all care together.

Thank you for allowing me to share these precious moments with you. We have many more memories to make, and we hope to share them for years to come.

Susan and Mike

Note about the Authors: Susan and Mike have lived in Colorado for over 20 years and hosting students has become a part of their blood. In her free time Susan likes to draw and be adventurous. Mike shares in the adventure by competing in bike races and hiking. Moving around and traveling became second nature for the couple as well as traveling and learning about other cultures. Their story continues and they do not plan on slowing down any time soon.





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