“Will you help me practice my English?”

It happened almost every day. They smile as they approach. University students and high school students. The well-rehearsed opener is a kudos to their teachers. The youngest were ten, with mamas lingering far enough to allow independence but close enough for safety. Smiles. All easy to understand, and absolutely enchanting.

Their request is to me — an invitation.

“Of course I will talk with you.”

Minutes later others approach. “Good afternoon. May I join you?”

One evening the conversation began with three and grew to include 14 university students and one professor. Some knew each other from classes but most seemed strangers. I directed quieter ones to initiate questions, introduce themselves, assuring everyone a chance….

Their responses when asked what they think of the U.S. went to sports and movies and music, some wished they could visit. But one seemed to have found a sort of forgiveness for the war. “We understand people change.”