Monday, January 25, 2010

Brussels is Multi-Everything

Chocolate shops are everywhere!

If Europe has a capital, it's probably Brussels. NATO and EU headquarters are here. There are more ambassadors and journalists in Brussels than in Washington DC!

The Grand Place, a large square in Brussels

About 60% of the population of Brussels is non-Belgian. There are people here from all over the world. To add to their multi-cultural confusion, the native Belgians are divided into two ethic groups: the Walloons (French speakers, but not French) and the Flemish (Dutch speakers, but not Dutch). Furthering the difficulty, the nation is divided into three parts: the Brussels-Capital Region, Wallonia, and the Flemish Region.  Someone has rightly said that Belgium is not a country, but a compromise.

Team mates working on our project - we won, by the way, surprisingly.

Since arriving in Brussels, we have talked to Turks, Algerians, Koreans, Scots, Ugandan, Brazilians, and others. One of the first challenges that the MTW staff gave us was to gather enough information to create and present an introduction to Brussels. We scattered across the city in search of demographic, historical, and cultural information, we also had to find and interview Muslims and Christians.

Some of the more interesting things we found: The first recorded ruler of the region was a guy named Clovis in the 4th century AD (probably no relation to Clovis Ledbetter from Amite County, Mississippi once made famous by Jerry Clower). Brussels is widely known for its waffles, and this is well-deserved reputation, the ones we sampled were absolutely the best we have ever put in our mouths. Ditto on the chocolates. Muslims here are very friendly and approachable. One young man, whom we will call Hakim, told us that he had been raised in a Muslim family, but had walked away from his parents' faith during his years in a Roman Catholic school. He now believes in "spirituality".
Wonderful Waffles!

Thanks for continuing to pray for us!

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