Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Music To My Ears

--by RoseMarie, posted Dec 23, 2018

She didn't like us. Any of us. We didn't do anything to offend her and she didn't know us but that didn't matter, she still didn't like us.

As new teachers in the Emirati school, we Westerners greeted her every day. She ignored us. She came into our rooms and  bypassed us as she shook hands with all the non Westerners in our staff room. Whenever we saw her, she avoided eye contact with us.Eventually, we stopped trying to befriend her.

I won't say her nationality but her friends had been fired from the school, we had been employed in their place and that was enough for her to have nothing to do with us.

Well after 16 months in the school we had a secret pal gifting. I drew her name from the glass jar and that meant she was my secret pal. My role was to buy her a gift and say something about her when we publicly acknowledged who our secret pal was.

If you wished, you could leave little gifts on your secret pal's desk on the run up to the gifting day. I bought her a small rose arrangement and asked one of the Emiratis to write a little message on it and then sent it to her room. She was so touched that she put it on the What's App group used by non Westerners. Alyia who had written my message to accompany the gift, told me about her putting the message on the What's App group. Then I realised, she will not think I am a Westerner as the message was in Arabic and she can read Arabic even though she is not  Emirati.

Next day I sent a beautiful body scrub but I wrote the message in English. She needed to know her secret pal was a Westerner before the day of the 'big reveal' so that she was prepared. I then sent her a scented candle.

Her room was next to mine and I could see the gifts on her desk. I wondered how she would react when she realised these were from one of the Westerners she blatantly ignored.

I had brought a few gifts from Ireland when I returned to the Middle East in September. I decided to gift her a gold coloured bangle and a silver pendant with coloured stones. They were tasteful. I put them in their respective gift boxes and put this in a gift bag with the UK shop name on it. I added a postcard from Ireland and wrote 'Love and Blessings, Rose-Marie from Ireland.

Then came the day of the reveal. We all gathered in the staff meeting room and everyone was excited. When you received your gift, you  proffered a few kind words about your secret pal and passed the gift to them. What could I say? Everyone knew she didn't like the Westerners. She taught music in the school and was responsible for morning assembly so I said 'My secret pal is someone who brings music to our ears every day of the week.' I didn't even need to say her name, everyone knew exactly who I meant.

She came forward with a huge warm and authentic smile. She hugged me and kissed me on both cheeks and graciously accepted my gifts. I have since been told that the Principal and Vice Principal looked bewildered at our exchange.

This was a lovely experience but I wondered how it would pan out. Would she go back to ignoring me and all other Westerners? Later that day, I passed by her. She was smiling and she told me she loved my gifts. Since then, over 2 weeks ago, she smiles often, we hug, shake hands and it is beautiful. I have seen her wear my gifts several times and I am so pleased. One of my Western colleagues told me that she too is benefiting from this change in attitude.

My dear friends, I reached out my hand in friendship and dignity hoping to be befriended and in return I have been met with love and friendship. Things happen for a reason. We must have faith in seeing the goodness in others, it is there, we may just need to show extra love to reap the rewards. x

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Readers Comments

Lsorge wrote: Lovely and inspirational story. Though it may not always seem so, the smallest gifts can change a person's world. It sure seems to in this case. It is my hope and prayerr that more and more people start to put the point into action. How much better this world would be. 😄
Karin wrote: Oh, good. My eyes aren't dry anymore!
Rina wrote: Extra love to reap rewards.
Very true
Novy wrote: "we must have faith in seeing the goodness in others, it is there, we may just need to show extra love to reap the rewards. "

Yes indeed, it is your extra love that brought out the goodness in her. May we all be strengthened to go that extra mile!
Novy wrote: "we must have faith in seeing the goodness in others, it is there, we may just need to show extra love to reap the rewards. "

Yes indeed. It is your extra love that brought out the goodness from her. May we all be strengthened to go the extra mile for others!
Babs wrote: Beautiful story - beautiful example. Thanks for sharing.
mindyjourney wrote: That’s how we do it, my friend, by reaching out with kindness and friendship. Thank you 🎁 ❤️.
leoladyc728 wrote: you really turned that situation around. Kudos to you and hugs

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