The overwhelming kindness of others

I recently had a conversation with some friends visiting from the United States. One of their overwhelming experiences from travelling in Australia was the genuine and trusting nature of Australians who, they observed: “were interested to help in any way and also to know us as individuals. There is an openness and trust that is noticeably different and refreshing,” they commented.

Well, I can now attest to the fact that this is not unique to Australia. As we prepare for our year in Spain and Europe (only 4 months to go!!!), I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness people everywhere have shown us – many of whom we have never met and yet their care from afar is extraordinary.

Leunig shows us how kindness is done
Leunig shows us how kindness is done

I have always believed that people are inherently well meaning and that the small percentage of people who do harm to others are not “bad people” but have been injured themselves in some way.  This is a belief I am hoping to impart on my children, as I do not want them to live a life fearing “others”.  That is why I allow my children to walk the four blocks to school alone. Granted, we are lucky to live in a country like Australia where there are few real dangers (other than those from nature or climate change but that’s another blog post!!). Ultimately I believe that living without fear allows generosity of spirit to be fostered.

Kindness inspires kindness - too true
Kindness inspires kindness – too true

While we are away I hope we will have the opportunity to give back as generously as those who have shown us incredible kindness so we can continue the good kharma.

Here is a summary of some the generosity people have shown us already:

  • Our future landlords in the Albayzin, Granada have connected us to other families in the area to help us enroll our children into the local school, find a violin teacher and a tennis centre for our children etc…
  • One of the lovely parents at the school our children will attend has been liaising with the school principal on our behalf and has offered to complete the paperwork for us to enroll our children before we arrive
  • A family in Burgundy, France who we do not know but who are friends of my French colleague here in Sydney, has invited us to stay with them and proudly show us their beautiful town and countryside.
  • My wonderful Swiss school friends whom I have not seen since my exchange year 22 years ago are hosting a “welcome back” party in our honour and another has offered us her apartment in Geneva for the duration of our stay.
  • My husband’s family friend in Helsinki, Finland who is like a godmother to him has given us her apartment in Helsinki as she will be staying at her summer cottage. This is despite not having seen each other since our wedding 10 years ago
  • Another beautiful French friend has offered us her holiday house in the South of France to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.
  • Other expat families who are already living in Spain and have read my blog, have offered us help and advice
  • My parents’ friends in Hungary have bombarded us with offers of places to stay and things they want to show us

And the list goes on…

Such pride and joy people have in their homes and countries that they generously seek to share with others. If this is not incentive enough to take a risk and travel overseas or to  welcome others to your home or country, I don’t know what is!

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5 thoughts on “The overwhelming kindness of others

  1. I have just found your blog and am saddened that I found it towards the end of your journey. I can’t wait to go through some of your earlier articles and see what the experience was like.

    I don’t know what is in the water, but I have genuinely admired every Australian I have met. When traveling in Europe, I met boatloads of Australians and found them to be some of the warmest, fun-loving people on the planet. It has made me want to visit your country very badly. Seriously, your culture is doing something right and I’m on a mission to figure out what it is.

    Returning home from Europe, I was disturbed at how cold Americans seem. We are very individualistic and distrusting in comparison to most of the world. I’ve been trying to understand it on a philosophical level. We live in a lot of fear. Fear of being scammed, fear of violence, and now even fear of our own government. There is a general feeling that goodness is leaving society. Maybe it’s our media, or a rise in violence, or a desire to be isolated in our own self-catered little world. I want to believe that there are still places where children can run free in the streets, where neighbors watch out for each other, and friendships are formed over a cup of coffee. I recently wrote an article on the subject: http://leavenorockunturned.blogspot.com/2014/05/finding-village.html

    The openness and kindness others have shown me has influenced how I treat visitors I find in my backyard, San Francisco. I now try to be more intentional about being open with people I meet, striking up conversations with travelers, and finding people holding upside down maps and pointing them in the right direction. There is still hope inside me that at our very core, people are good. I like what you said about how bad people are people who have been hurt themselves. Very wise and true words. You have to wonder how little children grow up to be serial killers. They are never the ones from happy homes, that is for sure.

    I hope you enjoy every second of your journey.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment and I am glad you found my blog. I look forward to reading your post as it is a theme I am very interested in. In fact we chose to live in the Albaicin of Granada as we wanted to be part of a village within a city – and that is what we have experienced. I’m sure we will miss that feeling when we return to Australia since we live in a big bustling city. Perhaps it will spur us on to move to a smaller city. Time will tell…

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