Going on a 7-day, all-expense-paid trip to Australia is merely a dream for most people. For Hana Enanoria and Adrian Dinawanao, it all became a reality in November 2017.
Hana is a virtual assistant and Adrian an electrical estimator for an electrical contractor. Fresh from their Aussie adventure, the two were eager to share their experiences. Asked if they had any inkling, Hana said that their boss had dropped hints early on, although they would always play it down. “We thought maybe it was just his way of motivating us,” she mused.
“Then in mid-May 2017, during our daily video call, our boss said, ‘I have a surprise for you guys. You’re going to come here in December for our Christmas party.’ I was speechless! We were both asking ourselves if this was for real. It just came so out of the blue that I had no reaction. In fact, it was only after the video call, when it had all sunk in, that I squealed in excitement!”
Hana was thrilled that her first-ever overseas trip was to the very country that has fascinated her since she was in Grade 3. Adrian had already been overseas a few times; despite that, he still could not contain his excitement at his first trip Down Under. “I browsed the Internet for information on Brisbane’s most famous tourist attractions. It would be my first time there, and the first time is the best,” he said.
Hana confided that the long wait somewhat dampened the anticipation. When November rolled in, preparations for GO-VA’s Christmas Party kept her distracted. Then suddenly, departure was only three days away. They were finally going to Australia.
No trip is entirely problem free, and Adrian had an issue with his baggage getting delayed for three days. “I had nothing but the clothes I had on,” he said with a chuckle. “My boss sorted everything out, though. He personally coordinated with the airline and even bought me extra clothes to wear.”
Other than that small hiccup, it was the perfect vacation. Apart from brief stops at the office for Hana to do some invoicing jobs and some site visits for Adrian, it was all leisure. They were delighted that their boss took time off from his busy schedule to be their personal tour guide. They visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where Hana patted roos and cuddled a cute koala. They shopped at Queen Street, Brisbane’s busiest street, hung out at South Bank, Brisbane’s most popular tourist spot, where the Brisbane Eye is found, and had dinner by the Brisbane River.
“The one thing that struck me the most was that Brisbane was not crowded at all,” Hana said. “When we were driving to our boss’ house, there was nobody, like nobody, on the street. Nobody walking; everyone’s driving.”
At their client’s Christmas party, mingling with her Aussie teammates definitely “broke the ice and cut down the barriers” for Hana. “There’s just this huge shyness in me that was lessened.” She had this notion that Australians were cool and chill; the boys tended to be noisy and rowdy. “It’s true,” she says. “Our electricians were loud lads, but they were very kind and lovely people.”
Adrian echoed the sentiment, adding, “I had apprehensions about the Christmas party because I didn’t know their culture, but when we were already there, everything was okay. Lots of talking and drinking; interacting with the electricians made us comfortable.”
Their trip turned out to be an excellent team building moment. Although both attest that they always strongly felt that they are part of the company despite the physical distance, their trip cemented those bonds further in a way that only personal interaction can make possible. The cultural divide has narrowed, and this is significant for Hana and Adrian, who both are, by their own admission, naturally shy. They are now more relaxed and even crack a few jokes with their Aussie counterparts. Adrian said, “I guess the whole point is that our boss wanted to break down barriers between us. He wanted us to know him well and he wants to know us well also.” It is worth mentioning that 2017 was a highly profitable year for their company, due in no small part to their dedication and hard work.
Hana and Adrian have nothing but praise and utmost respect for their boss. “Personally, I think that I just got lucky with my client,” Hana said. “That’s what I always tell myself. He’s very generous, kind and supportive. So I did not really just get lucky, I am VERY LUCKY that I have my client for 2½ years now. That’s why I work hard at my job; I don’t slack.”
“I was so happy that our boss gave us this chance,” Adrian chimed in. “I was excited to meet my team mates and make site visits to see the actual projects that, till then, I was only working on in the computer. And of course, I was able to experience Australian culture. I am amazed with my client’s work values. It gives me the inspiration to work hard. I am happy in my job, and because of that, everything else follows. For me, the trip is a bonus.”
Most people can only dream of setting foot in another country, but for Hana and Adrian, they might be going on another Aussie trip in 2018; that’s what their boss is again hinting at.
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