As part of delivering service to our international clients we travel frequently to remote locations. This is a valuable learning exercise as we are constantly being challenged as to our established beliefs of the way things are done in Australia. I first experienced this when in an orientation camp as a teenager about to go and live with another family overseas for a year. The wonderful people at the AFS exchange student program had a valuable lesson for us that I have never forgotten. When you find something that confronts you as just not what you expected, always remember that “it is not wrong, it is just different “. This lesson was in orientation from AFS, an organisation started after World War 1 to promote international understanding. It has been a powerful and enduring lesson.
Fast forward 30 odd years and I still recall this lesson often when I see things that seem strange. For example on a recent trip in Sri Lanka I saw marine berthing restarting in a country that has suffered 24 years of civil war. In the south of the country there are beautiful beaches around Mirissa and they have a whale watching industry. The local fishermen just raft up from a stone wall quay, however this tour operator had to provide customers with safe access off a rock wall. They made it happen with a Fibreglass pontoon that was only wide enough to berth the transom of the vessel. This pontoon was held in place with a line forward onto a sunken vessel, and rear over the rocks with a rubber thong to prevent chafing of the ropes. While it initially seems an unusual way to berth, it was nevertheless quite functional, stable and safe. This local solution is allowing valuable foreign tourism income to grow in Sri Lanka and we should never under estimate human inventiveness.
Come Friday I’ll be off travelling for a couple of weeks; some work and for the first time in a while a little R&R. Until next time, stay safe.