One of the most difficult yet valuable experiences I had over the past four years was working as an expat. My job search was fraught with disappointment but at the end of it I was hired for a more-than-half-time position in a local university’s information services department.
This was where I came face-to-face with being American in a work context. It was a humbling moment when I realised that despite speaking the same language as my colleagues I wasn’t always communicating well with them. I gained a new appreciation for what it meant to be an outsider, culturally-speaking, and I learned how to listen, really listen, to what people were saying … and to what they weren’t.
But it wasn’t all challenging: I met and worked with some astounding people with whom I never had to modulate my communication style. I looked forward to days shared with these coworkers because together we’d get our tasks done and have fun doing them. They were supportive, loyal, and generous to a fault, always up for a laugh and always cheering each other up during darker days.
Two of these wonderful people are the subject of today’s Project 365 photo, which I snapped (hastily, and somewhat poorly) over lunch. I’ll miss them tremendously, but they’ve given me such excellent memories to take with me that I can’t be too sad. And I know I’ll see them again soon.
Working with people I like and respect is never work.