I lived in China for nearly 5 years and moved back to the US in 2012. I was so excited to reunite with my friends, explore a new city, and re-engage with American culture and all of the fun things I missed (mostly food!). I distinctly remember having a tear in my eye as I stood in the aisle with all the options of chips at the grocery store. I was mesmerized and giddy. A massive rush of freedom rushed over me as I thought about starting a new life in America.

A few months before I left China, I worked hard to email several friends to let them know I was returning so I could find a new roommate to share an apartment with. When I finally returned, bought a car, and spent some time with my family, I was excited to see some of my friends that I only got to see once or twice a year and finally relaunch a more permanent friendship with them. …

Is it possible to over-market your business? Is it possible to do so well at marketing that your business can’t keep up and therefore turns customers off and actually ends up hurting the business?

There’s a local coffee shop here my hometown in Colorado. They have crushed it in terms of marketing their small business. Their instagram is brilliant, they’ve built valuable partnerships with other small businesses, they get positive media coverage, and they even created a semi-viral YouTube video. From a marketing perspective, all of that stuff is fantastic. So what’s the downside?

The downside is that their coffee shop literally has about 30 seats (I counted them). Most of them are small two-seater tables, so if customers are there doing work alone, then the space will be functionally maxed out at about 20 people. This is a problem because now it’s hard for me to decide to go there. It’s too risky. There’s a high probability that I will drive the 15 minutes there from my house only to find out that there’s no where for me to sit. This happens almost every time. I end up crowding into a small bar section that is barely deep enough for my laptop and watch like a hawk until someone leaves. …

Much of my international travel is in support of humanitarian work, so, as a result, I see difficult places and hear gut-wrenching stories. I meet with people who are exhausted, yet full of joy. I dine with people who have given up everything, but have gained more than they could ever ask or imagine.

When traveling, one thing I always try to remember is to laugh at myself and with other people. If I can’t carry joy with me then I’m probably doing more harm than good.

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One of my favorite things when I travel is befriending locals who never expected to make a friend. Shopkeepers, waiters or waitresses, taxi drivers, and hotel staff are all people I interact with daily. No matter where I go, the common language spoken between us is big smiles and laughter. My colleagues and I always do our best to be advocates of loving one another and building bridges of friendship across a variety of cultures. …

Colorado is home | Privileged to share amazing stories of hope from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia through ELIC.org | Former Beijinger | Fly fisherman

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