I feel like the relationship we have created, the family I mentor and myself, is mutual. We are gaining a lot from each other. I get excited about future things, I want them to teach me things, I want to learn how to cook their cuisine, I see the way they raise their kids and I think, gosh, wow, when I have kids can I send them over to your house?! I like the balance of it. I definitely want to help and be a mentor but I too want their help and mentorship. A balanced relationship is important to me.
I think people are eager, are excited. It’s really fun to have people come to town and be excited to be here. It’s fun for people to get involved in something where they feel good. I now have had the opportunity to make dolmas with a Syrian woman and through that created a friendship. In my opinion, people are striving to get involved and that is amazing!.
Something I have realized from all this, is people will have their opinions, and we will all have our opinions, nothing is going to be perfect. Some things are going to be negative and some things are going to be positive, but when you get to the face to face and you actually just meet someone, then you can make your judgement. There are going to be some people that come to Missoula that you aren’t going to get along with, but there are going to be those that become your friends, become your kids friends. And you’re going to have a future with them, and you’re going to share the experiences of life with them.
Greta Bates is a mentor through the IRC and a volunteer at Soft Landing Missoula.
Photo and Interview by Elliott Natz