By Greg Weber
President and CEO
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyan’s words three centuries ago have become my mantra. My journey to understand Bunyan’s words started with my first trip abroad in 1991. I was invited to work with and study at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia. I traveled alone. While in a foreign airport for the first time, I missed my connection to Moscow due to a late arrival in Rome. I had no idea how to figure out my next connection - no one around me spoke English. No one told me that I needed an international country code to make a call to my colleagues in Russia, and that I needed Italian lire not U.S. coins to use a pay phone. I was scared, lost, and in fear of everyone around me.
Then a lady sat next to me and asked me a question. I could not understand her language, then she asked gently in English, "Are you ok?" I nervously explained my situation to her – and that I had no idea what I was doing. She stayed with me. Helped me get a connection to Moscow. Helped me recover my checked luggage. She even waved goodbye to me at the gate. I never asked her name, yet I see her face so clearly still today.
Twenty-eight years later and having worked in 40+ countries she has stayed by my side. I've met hundreds of "International Samaritans" along the way - generous souls who did not know me yet remained willing and energetic about helping me. Strangely, I feel closer to these "International Samaritans" than I do with long-time friends. Each Samaritan gave of themselves and never expected anything in return - each one gave me a small gift of themselves, and I carry them with me every day. Generosity and kindness are always my first experiences with a new culture.
During Hispanic Heritage month, and during our International Folk Festival here in Cumberland County, be an International Samaritan for the United States. Give a part of yourself, share your kindness, be the hand that helps pull another up. I carry hundreds of hearts in my heart.
Share your heart with all you meet.