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Playing "Dutch Bingo"

September 8, 2022

"Dutch Bingo" is what we call if when a group of community members get together and figure out who they have in common and what the connections are. It is always fun for me to watch when I see that happening. It reminds me of the importance of connections, of having a place in this world. The other day I met with an important person (isn't everyone?), we did a little bit of "Dutch Bingo" and then found ourselves in a comfortable conversation. Who we know is so important in the world.

When Jim and I lived in China, it was difficult to watch these relationships and connections work out. We taught English at a Business School in Chengdu and "guān xì" (relationships) was what made the world go around. No matter how smart, hardworking, or diligent you were, if you did not have the right relationships you would not get a good job. The same was true in the other direction. We had lazy students who had little common sense, ambition or even business smarts, yet, if they knew someone... a job was guaranteed. It always drove me crazy, it felt so unjust, so wrong.

Fast forward 30 years and I think it has become true in the US now too. You get the job because you know someone, you get into the school because you have connections, you can start the business because you know how to maneuver the system, because someone taught you. This makes me sad at times. I know people who have the gifts, skills, and talents to do a great job, but because they don't have the connections to even get an interview, they are excluded. I know people who, based on the color of their skin, or immigration status, or their tattoos, or the community they live in, have a difficult time getting an opportunity to get into places that would change their lives.

We often talk about 'popping the bubble', connecting neighborhoods with resources and people, so that they can move forward. Sometimes all they need is a connection.

You and I get to be 'connectors' in the "Dutch Bingo" game. We have the power to help someone move forward, take the next step as they dream about a better future. I am not talking about nepotism (I have seen enough of that in China and it does not work!), but I am talking about opening a door that otherwise would not be open to that person.

You and I get to help a young person of color see a better future. You and I get to open the door for a job that leads to a better career in the future. We get to open doors! So, let's play "Dutch Bingo" and help people move forward.

Growing up in Germany and having only an 8th grade education made it impossible for me to ever move forward. Coming to America opened so many doors for me and I am thankful for a Country that allows people from all walks of life to move forward, grow, develop, and become who they want to become. But it took people who connected me to resources, opened doors for me, let me dream, that made me who I am today. At times it was the "Dutch Bingo" that got me into places and for that I am thankful. I want to do that for others.

So, let's play!!!

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