We all get caught up in our daily lives and the “grind.” Even if you love what you do as much as I do, you may sometimes stop for a moment, and think “What am I doing?” I had one of these moments two weeks ago, and the reminder about what I’m doing and why it matters came in the form of 26 exchange visitors from India and the Philippines.
To provide some context: I work on SHRM’s Exchange Visitor Program. As a Department of State-designated sponsor organization, SHRM helps bring exchange visitors to the United States to conduct short-term trainings and internships at U.S. companies. A major component of this program is the exposure the exchange visitors have to U.S. culture, people and places. And I love being a part of that experience … usually.
Which brings me to my recent experience. Two weeks ago, I was in New York City meeting with a group of exchange visitors, welcoming them to the United States and helping with their orientation. That evening we were scheduled to take a sunset boat tour of Manhattan. U.S. history, culture, people, places—and a perfect NYC sunset! Sounds lovely. Except we didn’t plan for a rainstorm, and, by rainstorm, I mean sheets of rain coming down, nonstop for two hours. Flash flood warnings, thunder, lightning—the works!
As I ran through the rain to meet the group at the Port Authority, I couldn’t help but think “What am I doing? This is crazy. Surely the boat isn’t going to go out. Surely! This group isn’t going to want to do this—the weather is miserable. Can we go bowling instead? WHAT AM I DOING?”
But, to my surprise, this group wasn’t going to let some crazy rain, or lack of umbrellas, or flooded streets, or the fact that we only had 25 minutes to get to the ark (ahem, boat), stop them. So we walked quickly, all 27 of us, one mile across Manhattan city blocks, jumped through puddles and made it to the pier with one minute to spare. Literally. It was a small miracle that all of us made it, and what’s more, the group was smiling and laughing. I didn’t quite get it—the weather was awful, and we were totally drenched.
For them, though, it wasn’t about weather. It was about the experience. Most of them had never been to the United States, never seen Manhattan with their own eyes, and most certainly never ran across the streets of this wonderful American city in the pouring rain to catch a boat. It was truly memorable. To see this afternoon adventure through their eyes and to hear the positivity in their voices, as we all sat on the back of the boat sopping wet, was not only a wonderful reminder of the importance of our work but also that we should embrace the storm and dance a little.
And with that, we ALL thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride with new friends, seeing new places. It was an evening I’ll never forget, and I’m grateful for the experience.
To learn more about SHRM’s Exchange Visitor Program, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.