Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

The Great British …mishmosh as seen in The Greenhouse Trust

May 4, 2010 · 1 Comment

Call it a melting pot, call it a salad bowl, call it macaroni and cheese with some veggies thrown in, England has consistently shown to be a diverse place filled with people from many different ethnic backgrounds. At first, I thought this would just be the case in London. A modern metropolis, the nation’s capital was guaranteed to have quite a bit of diversity, at least in my mind. London certainly did not disappoint. Still, I was unsure as to whether this diversity would continue in the rural countryside. My volunteer experience in Norwich has shown me that it does.

Staffed by volunteers from Australia, America, England, India, and South Africa, led by a woman from Sweden, filled with people ranging in age from their teen years to their more wrinkle-filled years, and represented by an equal amount of females and males, the Greehouse Trust operates due to the efforts of volunteers from every different type of background. As it is volunteer work, the company does not offer pay to any of its employees; it does, however, provide an excellent lunch as well as endless cups of tea and coffee to anyone who donates their time and energy there. They ask their volunteers to be timely but understand that speedbumps occur; they ask for efficiency but understand that daydreams can happen; they ask for everyone’s best but expect to use a gracious learning curve with most people. I say this not to build up the company but, rather, because I feel it offers a good parallel to England as a whole.

One of the major points of contention in the current election is the issue of immigration. The Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives, and the Labour Party all agree that something must be done to manage more closely the immigration process in the country. Their platforms are quite different but all suggest that the country is worried about the number of people coming into it. The positive side of the election is that none of the parties suggest completely closing the country’s borders; England still very much remains a tolerant nation, willing to allow non-native born people to live in the country. It does ask of those people trying to enter the country to jump through quite a few hoops in order to stay here. Still, once here, those immigrants are offered opportunities to establish a life as long as they abide by certain guidelines.

I may not agree with this blog post at the end of the election but, as of now, England operates in a similar fashion to the Greenhouse Trust. The Greenhouse Trust asks that its volunteers prepare to stay with the company for three to four months and follow certain guidelines of behaviour while there. Once accepted, the volunteers are treated equally and with respect. Sometimes there are awkward lulls in conversation during which times people are searching for common ground about which they can chat. But that’s the beauty of it. People are forced out of their comfort zones and must learn about different lifestyles if they desire to work in anything but silence for their four-hour shift. So conversation happens. And the melting pot melds together a bit more.

Categories: Audrey
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1 response so far ↓

  •   Karl // May 11th 2010 at 11:30

    Because of the nature of the tea houses, I bet this is one of the most diverse places in town! Ethical eating is certainly international.

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