It’s a Wonderful Life.

We all feel that we are failures, at sometime in our lives. Things don’t work out, ideas or projects seem to fail in our eyes, or they take a lifetime to come to fruition. During that dark, seemingly hopeless period, it is imperative to keep the faith, eyes on the ball and keep tilling the soil. Shoots ultimately will come out.

Recently, my wife, Rieki,  experienced the ultimate Frank Capra “It’s a wonderful life” moment. My wife started a Hotel School in Bhutan, called the Bongde Institute for Hospitality and Tourism about 2 years ago.  She struggled continuously trying to get the school off the ground in a frontier market, with no funding, no infrastructure, no income, with continuous challenges and obstacles that she needed to overcome. Recently, she finally saw what she had created and what Jimmy Stewart felt like in It’s a Wonderful Life (Experiencing what would have happen if we didn’t exist).

To reward one of her best students, Kinley, Rieki decided to bring her to Amsterdam for an internship at a four star hotel in Amsterdam. This was the first time that Kinley was ever outstide of Bhutan. Kinley started working at the hotel and her work was exceptional. So exceptional, that one day a gentleman who was having a meal there, called her over and inquired about her background. He said “why is it that you are so good at your work in comparison with the rest of the food and beverage staff”. She said “I studied at the Bongde Institute of Hospitality and Tourism in Bhutan”. He said “WHAT. I want to meet the person who started that school”. A hotel school that trained its staff well and was based in Bhutan was quite a shock. It turns out that this man was a very successful hotelier, entrepreneur and had a large enterprise owning and operating 5 star hotels in Asia.

Rieki and the Hotelier met and he was overwhelmed by what Rieki had done and was planning to do next. He offered to take interns from her school, send equipment if needed, and wants to discuss collaboration on her hotel school in Bhutan, and potential hotel development in Bhutan. In addition, he was particularly interested in her next project. Building a working hotel school for the Governor of the Karen State in Myanmar to help the 100.000 refugees, and developing a culturally authentic and carbon neutral hospitality sector.

We are all an overnight success when we least expect it. Congrats Rieki and your Learning Exchange Foundation.

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