Not long ago I was in Seoul South Korea having breakfast in the restaurant of the Westin Chosen Hotel.
You can order off a menu or go to the various cooking stations and chefs in tall – crisp-white chef’s hats will cook eggs or other foods to order. But this is not about the food, but the children from various countries who were there having breakfast with their parents.
The children would go with their parents and stare at amazement at the guy with the tall white hat on his / her head – they were in awe.
It did not take long for those children, boys and girls, to find other children who were also there with their parents for breakfast. And not long after that, they were friends with a kid from another country – speaking a language they did not understand. It was clear they were enjoying whatever time their parents would give them to be with their new friends. They shared, they laughed and smiled. But more important they immediately trusted this person they had just met. There was no fear, there were no harsh comments. There was only something the world needs – friendship, trust and caring of someone new. A simple act that, we adults, sometimes seem challenged to do.
I became fascinated by what I witnessed. As I sat and watched these children, I began to wish it would be possible to know, if when they are adults, maybe a teacher, leaders of business or even a country, someone whose opinion is valued, respected and sought that they would have that same ability as they did as a child…to look past appearances, language and culture to see the good in people and to trust. And, as they did when they were a 5-year-old in the Westin Hotel, make a friend.
I want to believe when these children grow into adults and become parents, teachers, leaders and people whose opinion is valued and respected, they will not forget that Sunday morning in Seoul South Korea where they befriended and trusted someone just like them.
I do not want to know the answer. But I want to believe they will. And if they do, imagine what the world will be like – run by adults who can also trust but sometimes behave and care like a child.
I pondered how children learn from parents, siblings, relatives and others who enter their lives. Sadly I realized the innocence of those 5-year-old in the Westin, how they view people and the world is much different than they will view it as they become adults.
Each of us must ask if we contribute to that change. And realize as parents we do have influence on how that 5-year-old, shows up when they are 25, 35 or older.
I was happy to be going home to Boston, but those children have given me a reason to believe the world can and will be a better place. And hope to believe how parents across the world can make it a better place by being a model for our own children to follow.