Yesterday I led the first day of course for a group of high ranking Chinese banking officials for my friends at Aspire Leadership. Day was going really well but, as I still have bronchitis I was quite glad of an extra afternoon break thanks to a fire alarm, just a drill of course. At least I thought it was a drill but when four fire engines arrived I began to worry - not for the Hilton Croydon but for my lovely new orange bag I had left inside the room… so shallow!
Something good did happen though (apart from the fact that the hotel was fine) while outside I got talking to one of delegates and he told me I was the first English person he had ever spoken English to and that he was very excited to do so. So today I suggested I accompany the group to lunch (Chinese restaurant) so he could practice more English. On our table for two (the rest of the group sat at one huge table) I asked Chen every possible question I could think of to engage him in conversation. I found out such a lot about his family and his daily life and work in China. Like me he had one son, unlike me his parents lived with him, like me he loved his work, unlike me he went home for two hours every day for lunch. During the afternoon I encouraged Chen to use his English (which was very good) and help the group’s translator, which he did. At the end of the day the group leader presented me with a gift, which was lovely, but seeing Chen enjoy using his English was the gift I will treasure most.