Let Them Bake Cakes

The Great British Baking Show teaches me about offering and receiving friendship in a fractured world.
Let Them Bake Cakes

A few weeks ago, I sat down for coffee with a family from Syria. I was teaching an English class in our apartment complex and afterward the mother of this family invited me into her home. They arrived in the US very recently. If you’ve paid attention to the news, then you might have a dim view of this family’s background: They faced suffering and the threat of violence; they most likely fled their country in an arduous journey; they had to wade through camps and bureaucracies to make it all the way here, to the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, where they are the first of their community to be resettled. You might have images of boats and tents and mothers clutching their children. But I have in mind a more immediate, more personal image: I was sitting in a sparsely decorated living room drinking coffee that was served thick and dark and sugary in tiny red cups. I drank it, even though it was late in the evening and I knew I would pay for it later. I drank it because that coffee ...

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