A couple of days ago I met one of my Ugandan colleagues for lunch at a local restaurant. It was a slightly more upper-class local restaurant, you pay a little extra, but you also have the opportunity of eating a range of meat dishes – certainly
things that are sought-after, and you can order fresh juice!
There were two main purposes of this meeting:
- For me to catch up with this colleague: I had recently increased her responsibility and I wanted to see how she was going, check-in on relations with other staff members (can’t believe I am writing a plural now – yes we are growing!); attempt to mentor her a little; and
- To give her advise on her research for her Diploma course, which she wanted to discuss with me.
We had a lovely chat about many things, and a fruitful research discussion. After our meal the waitress brought over the bill. It sat in the middle of the
table, to the side, for another hour or so as we continued to talk about schools, reading test results, research, etc. Then suddenly my colleague jumps up and says: “Spencer, have I ever bought you lunch? I am paying today”; and briskly walks to the counter. I shout back some lame attempt at a refusal: “No, it’s ok,” but it is quickly drowned by her insistence.
My employee here bought me lunch. She flipping bought me lunch!
This may not seem like a big deal. But let me just tell you, that this single event is EARTH-SHATTERING!
This is quite symbolic and says so much! Here’s a few things I took from this incident:
- She is not expectant. She doesn’t expect things from me and doesn’t have a feeling of entitlement. (I could possibly write this line 10 times to try to explain the significance of this one single point, but let me just tell you – it’s a big ‘en).
- She is generous.
- She is humble
- She is my friend and values our friendship.
I haven’t written her name, but those of you who know me well, and have followed the work I am doing, could possibly guess who it was.
I am deeply honoured and humbled to work alongside her and blessed to have her alongside me in this valuable work we are doing in schools.
Note: The day before I met someone else for lunch. This particular lady was a westerner, the boss of an international NGO which is planning on starting a primary school here. She requested that we meet to ask my advise about the local education system. We met at a western restaurant in town and we chatted for a few hours. When it came time for the bill, we split it. I think the events of the following day made it so much more powerful and significant for me.
So note for the future: You want to impress me, shout me lunch 🙂