The Power in Meeting New People

By: Michael Dane Lewis, 2018 WT Participant, and Ambassador Scholar

Bold! Energetic! Talented! Humorous! These are adjectives used to describe my ‘JAMERICAN’ Mom BETH! You saw what I did right? Yes! I used adjectives that begin with the 4 letters in her nickname. I mean, she is all those and more; there are more words in the human vocabulary that are able to shine a light on – or create a better picture of – who Beth really is. And oh, she’s CRAZY! Not only do I consider her my mother from another island, but she is also one of my bosses, she’s a mentor and a very close friend. It’s simple – she’s become FAMILY!

Let’s flashback to the day I first interacted with Beth. She was introduced to me as the Bakery Manager, by one of the Head Managers of my second job – since I had requested to work in a department that had a warm temperature. I am from Jamaica – as you may already know – so I am unable to be in very cold temperatures for too long. As I walked over to her with a not so cute smile on my face and my hand stretched out hoping to receive a handshake, Beth greeted me with a very beautiful smile and then proceeded to explain how the bakery family operates. Their department is a happy place that seeks to keep everyone happy. That first interaction with Beth made me realize that life is more than just working to get paid, it was more about ensuring the body that is working is having fun while at the same time looking out to help someone else. There and then I had to re-examine my approach for the entire Summer. At first, it was all about the money. After interacting with Beth, I saw the need to prioritize interactions and connections on my journey.

You should interact to change lives. Form interactions with a positive purpose so that the outcome is powerful.

My powerful interaction with Beth was a teachable moment. She has taught me much more throughout the summer, too. On the 4th of July weekend, she taught me how to cook corn, burger meat and sausage on a grill. This is something I plan to do when I return to Jamaica. Beth will always stop – no matter how busy she may be – to give a listening ear to my problems or to help me celebrate my triumphs. Being able to rely on a caring, consistent adult in America makes me feel safe. Furthermore, she is the type of lady who offers a smile and a hug when I arrive at work and when I clock out too. Besides, she is eminent for converting any conversation into a meaningful one and she tries her very best to include anecdotal evidence/personal stories to add context for better understanding.

The character Beth displayed on our first encounter has not changed. She is an authentically genuine person. Moreover, the power that manifests in her lived discourses transcends beyond just our mere encounter and conversations, it allows my brain to ponder on life and how best I can emulate such a magnificent individual so that I, too, can impact other people.

Ultimately, she taught me that you should interact to change lives. Form interactions with a positive purpose so that the outcome is powerful. I salute a lady who uses her relationship to broaden the knowledge, skills, and understanding of other people. Hats off to Beth!