Saving grace from Singapore

19 06 2012

As I sit down to type another blog entry, it has occured to me that life is indeed grand.

I was down for so long and had been trying to climb out of a hole, that admittedly, I dug for myself. In the process of working diligently to rebuild bridges, repair relationships and regain status, I failed to realize that I might have climbed higher than ever before.

“Is it difficult to accept someone so young as your boss?” was the question posed to me recently by one of my newest Grand Canyon friends, Justin, a university student from Singapore.

This is where humility pays off. As difficult as the last four years of my life have been, my walk through humility has made me a stronger, wiser and all around better person. Of this, I am convinced.

So, yes, I can take orders from a 21-year-old glamour girl who hasn’t the slightest idea which countries are in the European Union or what austerity means.  When she asks me to fold t-shirts or mop the floor, I oblige because all work is honorable and as the old saying goes, “be nice to the people on your way up because you’ll see them again on the way down.”

This I know all too well.

Justin and his fellow Singaporeans have become my saving grace in the Canyon. They arrived at a time when I was considering heading back to Florida, unable to find anyone who I could connect with beyond the usual pleasantries of “Good morning” and “Nice weather today.” Much to my surprise, I found camaraderie with a group of college kids from Southeast Asia.

The Singaporeans, hailing from a former British colony, speak the Queen’s English, albiet with their own distinct dialect — Justin calls this “Singlish” — and even more impressive is their thirst for knowledge and success. We connected early through the social networks of Facebook and Twitter and soon I was hanging out with Justin and his friends every day — meeting for breakfast at the employee cafeteria, going on day hikes into the Canyon and riding the bus to the general store for groceries.

Justin was intrigued about my run for office, particularly challenging the establishment. Apparently this is rare in Singapore — as is any sort of objective media. Still, the country is prosperous and it was quite easy to tell upon their arrival that the Singaporeans were a cut above the rest of the international workers at the park.

Most of the internationals are placed in the kitchen, housekeeping or as cafeteria line servers, where their contact with the public is limited. But of the five Singaporean guys who dared cross the Pacific Ocean to reach American shores for the first time, two were rewarded with retail jobs in gift shops.

I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be to cross the globe into a different culture, a different climate and then learn to count a different currency.

But Justin and his crew have done just that and in impressive fashion no less, reinforcing stereotypes of strong mathematical skills and loyal work ethic that are often associated with the Asian community.

They also figured out how to get out of Victor Hall much quicker than I did, convincing the Housing Dept. to placed four of them in a cabin. As one of company’s human resources managers noted, “They are very good negotiators.”

They are also very good friends and I am grateful to have met them. I only hope my future is half as bright as theirs.







One response

25 06 2012
David Altermatt

Some great coultural observations packed in your blog. What insight.

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