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professional lessons

I am becoming a nan.

OK.  So here is something which doesn’t happen in the U.S. – like EVER.  For our team in Laos, we’ve been looking to hire a Sales & Marketing Manager because I’m not able to do all the work in Hanoi and it’s important to have someone who connects with all the travel agents there and manages the reservation staff.  We first started with a Vietnamese guy who used to work for one of our properties a few years ago.  But there was concern that he would not be able to deal well with the Lao people and that ultimately, he would not succeed.

Our second option was a Philippino gal, but again, the Lao owners thought that a Lao person would be best.  Finally they came up with a candidate who has had some really spot-on experience and who will be able to pick up the job nicely and easily.  She finished her contract at the end of July and was planning to take two months off, one reason being to attend a human resources training course.  Her start date would be October 1st.  A month later than we want and need, but nonetheless we found a candidate everyone agrees on.  So yaaay.

I prepared all the paperwork with her offer, we all agreed on the salary and the morning I sent her the paperwork to sign I got this e-mail message (totally a surprise and out of left field):


Thank you Shanna.

Just want to let you know that today I am be coming a nan. I will stay in Temple for two week, I will be able to access to internet very limite.


Forget the misspelling and any thought this has to do with Indian food… becoming a nun was the last thing I expected her to say.  And I certainly thought she would sign her papers before she would be unavailable for two weeks!  I had to clarify with the Lao owners if this was something normal, acceptable…what this was really.  The answer was that it is more of a cleansing ritual, washes away all the negatives, helps you gain a clear mind and a cleansed soul so that you can move forward in your life in a positive way.

While that all sounds very nice and zen, I was still left shaking my head.  These are the kinds of cultural lessons no one prepares you for.  They just pop up and you have to learn how to deal with them.  Me personally, I would never prioritize my life in this way, and therefore did not appreciate being left hanging.  But everyone else around me seemed ok with it, enough so that it made me feel like I was overreacting.  So, I took a deep breath, talked to Buddha and told him that this gal had better sign our papers once she gets out of the temple. I am still waiting  for the official signature, but have at least received an e-mail from her which tells me she’s back online this Monday.

Oh the joys of working in a foreign country.  Never a dull moment!


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