Hi <<First Name>>!
Calling 2016 a crazy year would be an understatement. It's been one nof the strangest years in a long long time, and from so many head-spinning angles. Many faces that I grew up with have disappeared and the world's politics aren't doing so great either.
While many of us were glued to the TV and kept watching the media with their usual over-the-top sensationalist coverage of events, I have been very lucky (and incredibly humbled and thankful) to be able to meet and spend time with many people in different corners across the globe.
Those encounters will stay with me forever, they are what gives me hope:
There were the ice fishing Siberians who invited us into their Yurt just like that, to show us how they use their oven to keep comfortably warm while fishing through holes in the ice underneath – right on top of frozen Lake Baikal.
There were the people of northern Norway who have been such wonderful and open hosts.
There are the Irish with their deadpan humor and their hearts of gold, opening up the cafe an hour early for us so we could have a warm place to meet in the mornings.
The Inuit in Isortoq, Greenland, who despite leading a very hard life in a barren landscape, gave us strangers the widest smiles.
And the Isa tribe family living in their huts next to a road in Ethiopia who invited us to spent time with them, who told us stories, showed us how they milk their goats and who were just the most open and friendly people.
People all over the world have this in common: they want to lead a happy life. They want to get along with their neighbours. They are curious, sometimes even suspicious, but a smile and an outstretched hand built a bridge everywhere I've been, even when I didn't speak the language.
No matter what your leanings are, what you believe in and what makes you get up in the morning, let's all take a deep breath and work together to make 2017 a good year. Let's invite each other into our lives, extend a smile and a hand.
Let's try to find what unites us, first, before we look for things that divide us.