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Lessons from a Japanese Fan

I have a Japanese fan that is one of my most treasured items. The fan was a gift from a group of Japanese exchange students and, to me, represents community, giving, sharing, learning, and a multitude of other positive action words and emotions. The fan reminds me of valuable lessons.

Lesson #1: Creating a Ripple through Hospitality

Years ago when my nephew was in high school, my sister hosted a Japanese exchange student. She asked if she could bring the two boys up for a day. The answer of course was yes.

They came and we had a weiner roast, took them for rides on the all-terrain vehicle, answered questions about rural living, bush life and our other interests, and a fun day was had by all.

Then year two rolled around. My sister called and asked if she could bring 5 or 6 kids. The first student had talked about his experience and others had asked to come. This was repeated the next year, and about 25 kids, along with their chaperones came.

My original expectation was to be naturally hospitable to one student for one day. I had no idea of the ripple effect that would be created.

When the first student shared his positive experience with others, that expanded over the next several years to about 50 visitors to my place. I would venture to say that they each left with positive impressions about my hospitality.

As they told their friends and family about their time here, this impression would be passed on, perhaps to hundreds of people. I can look at that fan, and know that I have impacted someone, somewhere in the world, whom I will never meet. That is the ripple effect I want to create through hospitality and kindness.

Lesson #2: Perception of Daily Living

I think oftentimes we forget how unique our day to day life is to others. I think nothing of it when I hop on my quad, harvest from the garden or go for a walk in the bush. I have been told countless times that my day to day life is an experience for others.

It goes both ways though. I would consider urban settings or different geographical locations and countries an experience. The fan reminds me to appreciate what I have and to be curious about what I don’t.

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