The Universal Language Of Hospitality
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Politics and Activism

The Universal Language Of Hospitality

You don't need to know how to speak another language to know how to treat others well.

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The Universal Language Of Hospitality

Some may consider hospitality as bringing guests refreshments whenever a person has someone over at their house. Others may consider hospitality to be how receptive a person may treat a guest. I once read a quote that said something along the lines of, "hospitality is not serving people from our homes, but from our hearts". I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Think about it, whenever you have had a great experience at the expense of others it's usually because that person put so much compassion into enchanting you.

One reason I enjoy studying hospitality and tourism so much is that I love making great experiences for others. There's something about how personalized menus or other small touches can make a person smile beyond anticipation that makes the process magical to me. Hospitality people understand that it is the little things that can make any encounter memorable. That being said, it's been almost two weeks now that about twelve of us have embarked on a journey to a country completely different from our own. Within the short amount of time we have been in China, there has been a weird mixture of emotions that have been felt by us all. As exciting as it is being here and experiencing the culture, the language barrier makes it equally as frustrating. Most days are filled with either silence and confused looks or are greeted with goofy faces and shy laughter whenever a word is said incorrectly. It is amazing how patient everyone I have encountered thus far has been toward me. I may not be able to understand much of what people here say, but there are some matters that really need no words to be understood.

Transitioning from American culture to Chinese culture has been surprisingly smooth thanks to my wonderful coworkers. They were kind enough to invite us into this hotel and have never once made us feel like we were a nuisance. Though often there is a great deal of miscommunication, everyone here does their best to make us feel welcomed and included. Believe me, that is an extremely hard task.

Each day is greeted with the smiling faces of those who are eager to learn as much from us as we are from them. That's really all hospitality is, learning from each other and better understanding those around us. My coworkers are all concerned about my well-being and I can't even begin to express how much of an impact that has on me. The way my coworkers interact with me makes me think about back home and how I interact with people when I am either a guest or a host. Don't get me wrong, there are so many kind-hearted people in America that do their best to make others happy, but I can't help to wonder why we aren't this hospitable to foreigners back home.

I worked at a fine dining restaurant for about nine months before it closed and the majority of our guests were foreigners. I can't recall one time we did something to make them feel at home. Not once. I even can remember a few times where we weren't very nice because the menu wasn't what the guest expected and our response was something along the lines of, "well it was in the description, why didn't they know better"? Maybe it was because we don't realize how easy it is for something as simple as yellow fish to be mistranslated.

As I try communicating with my new friends through translations that are most gibberish, I now understand the language of hospitality. This isn't something that can be taught in a classroom. Hospitality is about the equivalence of loving your guests and making sure they understand that you do. It's repeatedly asking if your guest needs a rest because you understand that all this information they take in daily is overwhelming. It's constantly teaching your guest something as small as how to say "spoon" in Chinese even though you've told that person how to say it about twenty times. I don't know half of what the people around me are saying, yet I understand more about the people here than I do back home. You don't need to know a different language to treat people kindly, only a good heart and a lot of patience.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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