Norine Baron

A friend twisted my arm to host a young Crossroader from Gambia. He was the first black person I met in my life.

The first black man I met in my life came to live with me. A friend twisted my arm and convinced me to host a to-Canada Crossroader, a young man from The Gambia. We live in a rural area outside of London in a very white Anglo-Saxon community. There isn’t much access to anything international – and till our first Crossroader came to live us, I hadn’t had met an African or had much contact with African-Canadian community. He was the first of many To-Canada Crossroaders to stay with us over the last 30 years.

People would stop our guests on the street in town and say “You must be a Crossroader and you must be living with Garth and Norine!” Crossroaders had the opportunity to meet with small local groups such as the Ontario Farmers Association and the Women’s Institute. It was a great learning experience for all of us to have them come through the community and introduce their culture and perspective

I was in my early thirties when my family and I first got involved with Crossroads as a host family. It was such a rich life for my kids to interact with people from around the world while they were growing up. As for me, I was eager to learn about global issues and development issues. While I was on committees and the board, I cut my teeth on debates and discussions on how Crossroads should respond to issues such as South Africa’s apartheid system….These experiences fed my commitment to social justice and broadened out my education.

We’ve made deep relationships with Crossroaders throughout the last thirty years and been invited to share in many life-changing events in their lives. We’ve travelled many times to visit our Crossroads friends in Africa, Malaysia, India and Fiji. I have a goddaughter in India, the daughter of a woman we hosted in 1982. A couple who met as Crossroaders married at our farm. I was the matron of honour at the wedding of a Ghanain couple whose husband stayed with us during his Canada Crossroads placement. They later named their son after my husband. These are moments you never forget.

Crossroads has been such a formative part of my life and because of it, we’ve had a rich and satisfying one.


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