For Easter, we produced a – what we thought – funny little video with 4 of our employees hopping around and dressed up like Easter bunnies, hiding eggs in the jungle. It was meant to cheer up our friends and guests back home because we know many of you still have to endure severe restrictions due to the pandemic. And we had a lot of fun ourselves while making the video.
When I sent the video to my family and some of our friends to wish them a happy Easter, one of my friends came back to me saying that she felt that the video had a «colonial touch» because we made fun of locals for advertising purposes. I was shocked to realize that we may have produced this type of reaction with our video as our intention could not have been further away from this. Our philosophy with the employees is quite the opposite from «colonial» and I realized I had to write about this to clarify.
At Raja4Divers, we integrate our employees in our decision making process and get their input during our daily morning meeting in order to hear and implement what they have to say. There are a number of areas of work in which our local staff has a lot more experience than us westerners, so it doesn’t make sense to impose our ideas onto them. This wasn’t always easy for me to understand in the beginning, when I thought something didn’t make sense to me the way it was done here. Until Maya explained why we do it this way and it started to feel right.
Our employees are also completely integrated into the resort. The staff quarters are not separated by a wall or hidden in another village as in many other resorts around the world. All employees eat at the restaurant and mix with the guests if they like. We take them the way they are, even if their actions sometimes don’t make sense to us when it comes to private matters. I have often thought we should try to convince them that this or that is not good for them in the long term. Or make them think more in a «civilized» way (whatever that may be…). But that would be patronizing them. They are all grown-ups, responsible for their own actions. Who are we to tell them how they have to live their life? We are only responsible for the smooth operation of the resort, not for their private lives. But, we try to help if they ask us to.
We often enjoy a little fun and I have come to realize that most of our employees like to laugh about themselves. They make jokes about each other that I would never dare make about my friends and family. And they all laugh about them together. But, even though I also like to tease my friends back home once in a while, I would not dare do it here. Our humour is different and I’m not sure I would hit the right note. And the last thing I want is to make them feel humiliated. Working here as a «bule» (westerner) and in management already puts us on a pedestal. They watch every move we make, and we have to act as some sort of role model and try to avoid making mistakes.
I think, one of the reasons why our guests like it here and keep coming back is because they sense that we treat our employees as equals. I know it's not the case in some other resorts, but for me, it's the only way to treat people in any area of the world. We came here because we and our guests want to enjoy what they have: nature, the sea, marine life, the people, their culture, their traditions, etc. But it will only last if we respect it the way it is. We may have the knowledge of how to run a resort, but they have the knowledge about how things were before we came. And this is just as precious as the knowledge we acquired at school and during previous jobs. We can both learn from each other, and I definitely learnt a lot from my local colleagues since I came here.
What did you think of our Easter video?
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I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…