Last week, I traveled to the exotic vacation resort, Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas for a business trip. My first trip to the Bahamas proves a surprising experience. Most people, I imagine, focus on the fun in the sun events, but something very different struck a chord with me – the Bahamian people themselves. From the airport employees, cabbies, and hotel personnel, no one walked by without exchanging pleasantries or random kindnesses, or at least a friendly nod. The people engage others in their path. What really transform this place into paradise are the people.
As I met with one of the event coordinators at the hotel, I commented to her about how friendly all of the Bahamians seemed, and that none I encountered missed an opportunity to share pleasantries. She commented that they had better engage and express kindness to whomever they encountered. Job requirement, I asked? She responded that this had to do with upbringing. Anyone ‘raised right’ by Bahamian standards made eye contact, said hello, or somehow positively engage others.
The entire trip, not a single negative exchange occurred between myself and any Bahamian native. The same could not be said with other guests staying at the resort, mostly Americans. That proved a mix bag of interactions much like what we expect back home in America.
I found myself uplifted and noting my own interactions with others. The Bahamians set such a perfect example of how we should treat our fellow man that I had to look to myself and ask if I present myself in a similar fashion. Do I smile at strangers, and say thank you, share words of encouragement, etc. This trip proved to be my best vacation ever, and I feel the people played a significant part of that positive experience. To have an entire week without a negative word spoken seems an impossibility, but I can truly say, I didn't hear one.
What a lovely day we'd all have if we just embraced people and engaged them in a positive way - say 'hello,' give compliments, or just smile. We can change someone's day by how we interact with those who cross our path. Can we affect and change the atmosphere just by being in it. Will people encounter me, and say, she made me feel better just by being so nice? I hope so.
I must admit, I know very little about the Bahamian people and their culture. My hostess, shared her Christian background, and that Christianity played a big role in many of their lives. Hotel employees sang hymns as they worked which I found refreshing. It wasn't just one or two people here and there singing. I ran into workers singing hymns fairly regularly. It is beautiful to behold. They changed the atmosphere, and I feel called to do the same. We all need to reflect on how we affect the people around us.