The Van Was Loaded Down

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The back of FBC Concord’s 18-passenger van was loaded down with framed prints, floor rugs, linens, kitchen utensils, pottery, even a small statue. On a rainy November afternoon, all the talking fogged up the windows, too, providing a great “whiteboard” for an Arabic lesson.

That’s what happens when six Arab women (and two children) join four American women for a trip to the Great Smokies Flea Market!

It all started in an American culture class about grocery shopping, coupons, and sales. A discussion about grocery stores led to farmers’ markets led to flea markets. The students were fascinated! So the leaders planned a day trip up to exit 407 on I-40—the biggest flea market in the region.

women shopping

When they arrived, the women loaded their baskets full in the very first shop. Jani (our American culture instructor) had to show them just how extensive the market was. A few said they had never seen anything like it! Thankfully, the market wasn’t crowded, so the women scattered for a couple of hours. Vendors in the stalls—some of whom had accents themselves—were patient as the six ladies searched for the right English words. Even with limited English, they were bold and confident. When Jani met any of the women as they shopped in the narrow market aisles, they insisted on showing her their “finds.” Maybe shopping, like sports, transcends language.

After their shopping trip, the women stopped at Jani’s house for tea and pastries. She was ready for Christmas, with her tree lit and decorations hung. Many of the women has never seen a home decorated for Christmas. They smiled and laughed as everyone proudly described the good deals they had found.

And that’s how these ten women managed to weigh down the back of Concord’s van and fog up the windows on the way back to Knoxville.

Did you ever imagine a flea market shopping trip or a holiday tea party could be a way to help internationals feel at home in metro Knoxville? It can be. If you want to be involved in fun “field trips” like this, submit a volunteer application today!

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