As mentioned in my last post, last week we had about 400 international staff in the Springs for our Global Conference. Every time I am fortunate enough to have cross-cultural experiences with our staff I am reminded that humanity is the same all over the globe. Just some of it is better than the rest.
Take hugging. Hugging is one of those things that you either love or hate. Some cultures are more prone to it than others. American's tend to fall in the middle. We hug but it's not our strongest interpersonal skill.
I've been told I'm a good hugger. Not one that hangs limp arms around your shoulders. I'm a strong hugger that isn't afraid to squeeze, especially if you are a great friend, if you (or I) look like you need a hug and if you ask for one. I thought I knew how to hug well. Then I meet George.
George is from Kenya but currently working in Burkina Faso. He is about my height, maybe an inch or two taller (I'm 5 foot 4 inches for the uninformed), and not skinny but not massive either. He doesn't appear to be of great strength. He sat with me at dinner on Thursday and we chatted. After dinner, as we were all preparing to leave, he went to give me a hug.
He about squeezed all the air out of me, not to mention he somehow lifted me off my feet.
That was a hug!
I saw him again Friday afternoon and wanted to wish him a good trip home. Again, he gave me a hug. I think I know now what it would be to be picked up and hugged by a gorilla. They aren't tall but they are strong, even if they appear gentle and unassuming.
If I forget every other hug I've ever received, I think I'll remember this one. It was amazing, warm, strong, and everything a hug should be.
If you ever need a hug, let me know. I'm taking lessons from George!