Note: It seems to be a long post..... :)
I moved to Nairobi six months ago for a work project and i was really excited not only because it was a very good opportunity (both career-growth wise and financially) but also because i get to visit places i have never been to and interact with a lot of people from different continents.
I got what i wished for. Never had i worked with such a diverse team. There were Indians, Malaysians, Taiwanese, Filipinos, Singaporeans, Nigerians, Somalians, Zimbabweans, Zambians, Kenyans, Ugandans, Ghanaians, Mozambicans, Ivorians, Australians, British, Canadians, Egyptians, South Koreans, Thais, Malawians and some other countries i can't even remember now. It was very diverse and everyone was different.
I learnt a lot of lessons. One important thing that stood out was Tolerance. Everyone is different, with all sorts of work ethics and behaviour. Different ways of writing, what i consider to be a hostile email, my colleague from India thinks it's the respectful way of addressing someone. The aggressive and raised voices of the Nigerian men which they deem acceptable and normal as a way of getting across their point, to the silent words of the Filipino, who looks so tiny like she can't hurt a fly. From the heavily accented English of the Thai who communicates better by emails or chatting, because no one can seem to understand his spoken words, to the playful Australian who plays angry birds in a meeting but still manages to contribute effectively to every point. The Indians who i really had a time getting along to because i didn't understand their work ethics stand but we ended up eating Chicken Masala together at dinner one time. Or is it the Ugandan who acts like he's drunk everytime you engage him in a conversation but still manages to give you the information you need on time. Oh how can i forget the Singaporean, my flatmate, we bonded so well and we learnt to respect each other's space, i learnt how to make Ba ku teh, and i taught her how to eat my extra spicy Jollof rice. The many multi-cultural dinners we had in the flats, oh the Thais are amazing cooks. I could totally move to Thailand just for food.
Ha! the Kenyans, as horrible as i find their meals which i only ate it twice in the whole six months, i felt their hospitality and kindness, eagerness to please the foreigners but the men can be quite leechy and unpretty. I learnt that Asians in general, speak their language more than English and stick together no matter what and look after their own before the consider outsiders. The Canadian taught me that maybe working so late ain't that bad as long as there is Pizza. I learnt from the Ghanaian that you can be lazy and still have a job. The Taiwanese taught me that spontaneity is the order of the day, which explains our sudden hill climbing trip. The Mozambican taught me that Portuguese is indeed a sexy language but the Ivorian topped it off with French.
I could go on and on about all i learnt but it made me grow. I became less impatient, i stopped jumping to conclusions and my adaptability increased. I saw the world through other people's views. I realised that not everyone speaks good English and no one seems to care. I grew personally also. It was a healing phase for me. The project came at the right time, when i needed to leave my familiar surroundings to get a clearer head and a fresh start. It healed me. I forged relationships i know will come in handy someday. I found out i am a direct person who isn't afraid to speak her mind, well everyone seemed to hint at that during the going away surprise dinner they had for me. I realised how strong i could be and how little things don't seem to bother me again. I loved and appreciated my friends more, the ones who always checked up on me and who i ranted and whined to when i felt lonely being away from home. The Skype calls, Facetime, phone calls, bbm chats.....all were so comforting.
I think everyone should experience leaving their familiar surroundings and go to new places and engage with other citizens of the world. It changes you. I am moving again to another country, to Ghana, still the same project but to work with another team for 9 months. It will be more challenging but i feel more prepared and well at least i will be closer to home.
I have an awesome weekend ahead, not only am i going on vacation, but my 'One that got away' is going to be home and we really do need to catch up. So drinks at the place we had our first date..... I call him my one that got away even though we never dated because he is someone that i really believe we could have had an amazing relationship. Nothing physical ever happened between us even though we started off as liking each other but Life happens and we didn't happen. Right now, our friendship is much more awesome and i am content with that. All platonic :)
So, ever been in a life changing experience? Do share
Have a great weekend.