Marit Mesipuu answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


Okay, so when you first asked me this question, I started to go through different stages of my life to remember all of the nice things that people have done to me, and lot of those things of course are by family members. But in the recent year especially, there have been a lot of nice things by non-family members as well. But the story that I want to share today is from like seven or eight years ago, and that was when I took a break from my work and decided to go traveling for one year. Because I didn't have a budget for the entire year, then I did some work, backpacker work in Australia.

I had just arrived to Australia, I had been there for a month, and I was still looking for work. I was starting to get a little bit stressed out because there was nothing, and I had made tons of calls, which was very challenging for me at that time, because in Estonia... Estonia's where I'm living right now and where I'm from, and in Estonia we do most of the communication by email. So I had to make lots of calls and tried to get many contacts to find some kind of work. And I wanted to do farm work.

And then I finally found something. I found one working hostel, and I was a little bit afraid that, I don't know, how nice the host will be because I read many stories online where there will be... the people who keep the working hostel won't pay you money and won't be very nice to you and so on. But I decided to go and see how it is, and I can always quit. And then I arrived at this place in Queensland, in Australia, which was called the Summit Backpackers. This was a working hostel that was kept by a family, like a family business. There were three brothers, and the wife of one of the brothers, and occasionally also their mother was helping them out there.

This was, I think, one of the nicest experiences that I had throughout this entire year. Mainly because of the family that kept the hostel, because they... that wasn't just like a wholesale business for them. There were maybe like, depending on the season, there were always about 20 to 60 people staying in the hostel between the age of 18 and 29. So you can imagine how this environment was there. Lots of cleaning to do, lots of different cultures, different people, maybe some conflicts. And what this family did was they, somehow they brought us all together, like one family. And they didn't just have a nice hostel that they kept. They could have just like an average hostel, like have a pool table and nice kitchen and clean rooms and nice beds. But on top of that, they had a free barbecue night every Tuesday.

They organized for us field trips every Sunday — that was the only day that we had a day off in the week, because most of us were working really hard in the two bigger farms that were in the area, working, I don't know, 40 to 60 hours every week. On Sundays, Niki, who was the wife of one of the brothers, she made us pancakes for free, and hot chocolate. One of the brothers then was driving us to work every morning, and not just randomly driving us to work, but he tried to set a good start for the day. He played whatever songs that we wished for in his minivan. He was a funny guy, so he made lots of jokes. So we started the day off by just laughing. I was there also during Christmas, and I was a little bit afraid, how's Christmas going to be? Will I miss my family? When Christmas arrived, I felt like this is the best Christmas that I have ever had because they made it all look so nice and loving. Everybody was cooking something. They made a huge, very nice Christmas meal. They had a small concert for us, because they also had a family band. That atmosphere was just so lovely.

Why I chose the story today is because I think that these people, they didn't do it for any selfish reason. That was something really selfless that they did for us, all of the young people there who were far away from home, making us feel like one big family. After I spent three months there, it was time for me to leave. It was a Tuesday, so it was a barbecue night, but on top of that, they, for some reason, also had a special event on that day. We had a YouTube party, we were playing whatever songs somebody wished for, and they made hot chocolate, which was not something that they would do on Tuesdays. So I felt really special. I don't know if they did it for me because I was leaving or not. We weren't like really close. But I really, really appreciate what they did for us. So that's my little story of the nicest thing that somebody has done for me.

Maarit Mesipuu provides administrative support for The Shift Network from her home in Estonia.

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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 20: The Dreamwork Summit