One of the great gifts we have is our ability to communicate.
I have become profoundly aware of how it feels to be a stranger in a foreign land. Over 95 percent of the population here speaks only Spanish. To make the matter even more difficult, it is a variation of Latin American Spanish and unlike the formal Spanish I took in high school. The pronunciation of words is different. I am challenged to try and comprehend what is being said to me and even more challenged to try to express my own thoughts.
The roofing crew are 12 men of whom none speaks any English, other than a few basic words like "hello" and "lunch" the latter of which which I taught them. There is a crew of masons and a crew of laborers on the roof as well. According to the powers that be, I own the roof. These men are all under my direction. I have no translator. Even the security personnel whom sit on watch the entire day are of no help.
This is where I am forced to step up to the plate and face the challenge. I use what little Spanish I can speak and a vast array of visual cues to communicate. Facial expressions are a big part of the vocabulary, hand gestures, body language and demonstrations. I am a performer overacting out my parts in order to be clearly understood.
In turn I have to observe the visual cues that I am presented with along with vocal tones, bits and pieces of recognizable words in order to understand what they are trying to communicate to me. My ability to draw is indispensable.
I have heard many Americans say things like, "Damn Mexicans, why don't they learn to speak English?" or some variation of the sort. Truth be told, learning a new language is a challenge, especially as we grow older and our own language become firmly entrenched into our psyche.
There are many challenges one faces when one comes from a particular culture to a new and different one, language is but only one of the many that I am facing here.
The next time you are faced with the challenge of communicating with someone who does not speak your language stop and think. "What would Aloysius_son do?" ... Answer: Make lots of faces and wave your hands around a lot! It has been working for me so far.
| ||Posted 12/7/2012 5:09 AM - 704 Views - 114 eProps - 68 comments|
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