Week 6 (Life): Jambo. The Random Act of a Hello


Jambo” is the word for “hello” in Swahili. When you walk the street in rural Kenya, even women carrying 20-gallon buckets of water on their heads will greet you with a big smile and “jambo.” The custom is contagious. You find yourself saying hello to every person who passes you on the street. By the end of the day, you will have greeted hundreds of people, most of the time with a handshake in addition to saying jambo. You feel connected to the people in the community because the hello requires eye contact, which forces you to be in the moment and connect with the person in front of you. When I come back to the United States, however, I quickly revert to my American habits and rarely extend a hello to someone as he or she walks by.  


This week our Be BETTER life goal is to greet people with HELLO when you walk by them or interact with them in passing. It is easy to be so wrapped up in our own world that we forget to make eye contact and extend a greeting, or we consider it an annoyance. We all have a lot on our mind, so much so that we live in the world within our mind more than in the world around us. If we shift that focus to the world outside our head, the power of that hello can be contagious.


When you have a couple of minutes before a meeting starts, or if you are walking through the mall, don’t become consumed by text messages or fire off a quick email. Instead, make eye contact, smile at someone and say hello. By reminding yourself to say hello, you contribute to a BETTER community and environment.