In September 2018, I traveled to Mauritius to participate in my first Project Management Institute (PMI) Africa conference. When planning my accommodations, I purposely did not stay at the conference hotel, however, I did find a beautiful place to stay (Sunset Reef Resort & Spa). The resort was in walking distance of the conference hotel located in Point aux Piments. Sunset Reef Resort & Spa is in the north, which from the local’s perspective have some of the most beautiful beaches.
When I arrived in Mauritius, I did not know what to expect, but I planned to keep an open mind. I arrived later in the day, so I freshened up, made a few calls, and prepared for bed. The next day I awoke excited for the first day of the conference and decided to go shopping prior to the conference, which started hours later. I asked the concierge about shopping on a Sunday and decided to go to one of the local markets.
Another woman who I spoke to decided to join me shopping, so we shared a taxi to the market. This was great, because during our conversation I learned she was there for the same conference as well. We walked around shopping purchasing pashminas, t-shirts, and any other souvenirs we found to our liking. Once we returned to the hotel, we freshened up for the conference.
We arrived at the conference together and made our way to registration. At this point, we had both enjoyed each other’s company and decided to continue with our budding friendship. Throughout the conference we joined sessions we felt were of value to us and networked with others in our field. Several times we walked to and from the conference and one day on our way back to our hotel we ended up eating some nice fresh grilled fish on the beach.
I told Gifty I really appreciated her and others warm reception, even though I am of African descent I did not grow up on the continent. The feeling was amazing, and I really felt connected at that point to everyone and felt like Gifty and I have a real sisterhood.
Once the conference wrapped up, we spent the last couple days enjoying Mauritius. The next conference location was communicated, and I indicated I would be at the conference the next year. Gifty left a day earlier than me, so I spent the last day at Grand Baie beach and did some additional shopping.
When we returned home Gifty and I continued to communicate. We planned to stay at the same hotel for the next PMI Africa conference and when we arrived in Tanzania we continued to interact as if time had not elapsed. We enjoyed the conference and had a great time. It’s ironic, because many people feel as though we have known one another for a long time, but that isn’t the case. Sometimes you meet someone who is genuine and easy to get along with. Even though Gifty is from Ghana and I am from the US we continue to communicate through WhatsApp and see one another at least once per year.
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