Let the hospitality industry be the template for racial harmony worlwide

When I was watching television last night and saw how President Obama tried to reconcile with a Harvard Professor and a Cambridge police officer, I could not help but feel disappointed with our level of tolerance and understanding that many of us share. I would not want you to think that I am overlooking this very complex issue and waiving it away lightly, as I do understand that racial harmony worldwide will take time to heal due to the deep down scars inflicted over history. 

However, I would like to share one of my many cultural experiences that I have witnessed over the years. In 1987 I was based in one of the largest hotels in the Caribbean, we had around 15 outlets if I can recall and many of these outlets were themed restaurants with a culinary global feel; there was a French, German, Bahamian, Italian, Chinese, Mexican and even an Indian restaurant. 

All of these restaurants had their own signature chef from the country the restaurant was representing and we all had to work very long hours, in hotter that heck kitchens, under very stressful conditions and would you believe it, yes TOGETHER and without killing each other. 

Most of these professional hoteliers were well travelled people who had “been there and done that” in many different parts of the world. We did not fight, use racial over tones with each other, showed no signs of discrimination whatsoever in fact quite the opposite. 

We used to eat together every day at the chefs table and each chef would bring a dish from their restaurant thereby creating an international buffet of sorts to be enjoyed by everyone. 

Of course there were a few cultural exchanges and winding up going on, but this content of our daily conversations was never taken serious and the chefs knew that no harm was meant. 

Every day in the hotel industry, we meet hundreds of people from all around the world whom are just passing through our doors and we feel that its our responsibility to ensure that they have a clean hotel, great services and yes to ensure that they are safe. 

Every Hotelier worth their weight in course sea salt feels that it is their personal responsibility to ensure every foreign guest is safe in their hotel, hurting them in any way, physically or verbally would be considered an outrage. 

When we travel around the world to work and blend in with different cultures, it teaches us tolerance, a deeper understanding of different races, religions and cultures and ensures that we become, well a member of the world community. 

Instead of countries conscripting their youngsters and sending them off for a 2 year stint in the army, why don’t we consider sending them off to another country as a hotelier for a couple of exchange years instead. 

They could work hard, acquire good discipline and mix with people from all over the globe gaining a lot more understanding of others. 

A crazy pipe dream you may be saying, what will we do without our army, good points I guess, but if we all understood each other a little better, we may not need the armies in the first place.