Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

We See but Don’t Observe

Years ago a wise colleague asked me if I had heard the story of “who packs your parachute”.  I told him that I hadn’t.  He then went on to tell me the story and for those interested you can read about it here.  I thought long and hard about this story and adopted the messaging as part of my mantra.

As an exercise with my fellow Rotary Peace Fellows I ran a quiz.  Partly to see what they recalled and whether they had noticed who packed their parachute.  The questions that were asked tested recall about some aspects about the course but more importantly it challenged some people as to some details about other Fellows, small details of those who had assisted in the course and who may have been easily overlooked, as well as Lek and Bear.

Lek and Bear are the security guards at the Chula apartments.  They greet us every day with broad smiles, broken English and a lot of enthusiasm.  They open doors as you approach, push the elevator button to make life easier for the international students who trudge in complaining of the heat while contemplating their next assignment, task and readings.  It is easy to hurry to your room to the comfort of air conditioning and envisage how to complete the final assignment.

From the outset I took time to speak to Lek and Bear and gave them both my business card, engaged them in conversation and found out their names.  They both wanted to practise their English and each time I see them I smile, wave to them and say hello.  It doesn’t take much to do so and I personally find it rewarding to know that people can be genuinely happy to see me because I have made an effort.

I didn’t keep a tally of who knew the answer to what question in the quiz, nor was I concerned with who would win.  My aim was to get people to think of who works with us.  Whether it is Lek, Bear, Meimei, administrative staff or cleaners.  We all need to acknowledge who packs our parachute so that they can feel valued and we can progress safely towards our goals.

Tomorrow is another day.  I hope to see, appreciate and respect those who take the time to assist me.

Russell Patten, Australia
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2014 Session


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