The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A summer reunion

Former teacher, student prove it's a small world, indeed

It's a bright, very warm and humid afternoon in July. Donna Hacker Smith sits nervously on a couch in the lobby of Chicago's O'Hare Marriott Hotel. Her husband, Larry, sits facing her across a coffee table while a photographer snaps picture after picture and she patiently answers my questions. Her responses are polite, but her attention keeps shifting to the entrance.

A little after 1:30 p.m., she stops speaking mid-sentence, staring across the lobby as if not quite sure of what she's seeing.

"It's them," she says in a stage whisper. She rushes across the lobby with her husband, the photographer and me in tow.

She stops 10 feet from four men about to check in — a tall, middle-aged Caucasian and three Japanese in their 30s or 40s. She unfurls a cloth banner with writing in English and Japanese and holds it in front of her.

Two of the Japanese are amused, but the third is stunned. He stands open-mouthed for just a second and rushes into her arms.

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February issue


Embracing diversity