Cross cultural communication is not all about spoken words, but it is also about being sensitive in a way that is not offending to both parties.
Independent, confident, passionate about her volunteer experience is what I’ve perceived with my hhc. I thought, she is perfect, like a princess travelled thousand if not millions of miles just to volunteer in a developing country like the Philippines.
I find it odd as well, to know that she is an actress way back in London and wearing different hats made me feel awkward. Why is this woman with a blonde hair, fair complexion, a vegetarian and has a good background will go as far as this community to do volunteer work/s?
Since we had this very intellectual stimulating conversation about random stuff, we even talked about how simple she is in her own country. She even know how to do her laundry by herself (I thought she has servants or what not), eating dishes using her hands ( I think, I taught her to do so, to be some sort of gain the trust of the fam? 🙂 ), cleans up our room (I thought she has a robot like asimo to do it 🙂 ), aside from her usual outgoing physique she has a big heart as well, she loves to listen to a loooooottttt of things, as if picking up bits of everything is part of the learning journey.
First Impressions usually don’t last
During our first socials with the UKV’S, I thought she’s picky and bit snob when dealing with a foreign counterpart. Also, when I talked to her, like asking for her name, I thought, she wear this mask of being friendly, but I was wrong; she’s really nice and has a lot of things to discover just ask (wink) .
It was during our in community orientation that I had the chance to know her more. We stayed in one room together with two more volunteers. We even talked about the the Filipino’s thinking time, ‘trust’ issues, how to handle it, even cultural sensitivity in both Philippines and U.K.
Keep the reel rolling!
I told her straight to the point that I felt awkward when it was revealed that I will be her host home counterpart (hhc), it was a nerve wracking experience for me(sorry for exageration 🙂 ) and I thought we came from two different worlds and just met half-way, but it is not.
On our first night as host home counterparts, I disclosed the fact that both of us should be honest with our emotions and if we are pissed off with one another, or even stressed out for the day, also, if we feel the urgency of having a ‘me time’ to reflect, self-check, or even do our own thing.
I am not sure if she just want to blend more with the culture or really wants to adapt to our very heterogeneous culture. The past few weeks has been a roller coaster like experience for us. She even asked me if she wears a culturally sensitive clothes, eating with her hands is culturally acceptable thing, nor refusing one thing is acceptable.She wants to engage more in the community but obviously she can’t because she came all the way from London, has blonde hair and fair complexion; I on the other side, is enjoying the thought of having my cup of coffee and no one notices me.
(part 2, Pros and cons of having and working with a Foreign Counterpart)
Pros and cons of having a Foreign Counterpart
Well, this is not to highlight all the good things we were accomplished (as hhcs’) so far in the programme, we also had this not so good experiences as well. 🙂
- Managing the language barrier- I, being able to speak the language(local) is in better position to get the ‘trust’ of the locals even our hhh; she has the eagerness to learn the language but find herself as rubbish in it (I felt the same, when I study foreign language/s).
- Should I say ‘yes’ or should I say ‘no’?- such phrase ‘would you mind…….?’ is like asking in Filipino ‘gusto mo bang….?’ whenever we gonna do something, like ‘would you mind having more rice?’ if I replied in no, for her it means yes! 😛
- If they say thank you they really mean it- I find it odd to say thank you whenever someone will complement whatever I did for a particular thing. My hhc even read my blog and find it organized but I reckon the thought, that I am not really good(like being inferior does not really make any sense). Being inferior and being humble are 2 different entities. You can’t say your humble while being inferior.
- If they say you can count on them they mean it- I don’t know, there is a gap (literally a large one) if you will able to see how we manage to have our socials, our team meetings, as if, there is this thing about being Superior-Inferior. Is it innate with us (Filipinos) to act in a certain way that a Westener will be treated like a Queen travelled thousand miles just to visit a pauper? Or is it part of each individual to be inferior over the other? Or it is just me who is reckoning to work at par with my counterparts?(this really causes me a bit worry) if I work that much(whose standard should we follow?)if I work that lame/lazy(again what is the benchmark?). I thought that working hard does not really makes sense, I’ve been in that situation before that working hard and not enjoying it does not help you to grow as individual (trust me, been there done that 🙂 ).
- Never been in the spotlight so spare me one- personally, I hate to be in spotlight(one thing that I wasn’t able to overcome even I already had a degree-which involves a lot of socials!) for the rest of my life?! It was a word from a fellow who said ‘weather you like it or not time will come and you need to overcome this social-phobia that you have’; spotlight is an inevitable thing, from time to time you will be talking with a lot of people. It was strange as well when my hhc, asked me to sit beside her to join the group and have some chat, I reckon the idea and got stressed for what we did, before the party: which was hilarious! We should have asked for their help, coz it was a team thing! We should not carry the cross all over just to overcome the problem (that’s the thing with us Filipinos) we recognize the problem, act on it as if we are atlas who carries the globe, but we are not! We are individuals with diversed skills and definitely has something to offer, so why bother?
- I will be your friend in need and in deed- I am not sure if it is just me and my counterpart who has this sort of implied arrangement/deal whenever someone is upset/down for a particular reason. At first, I thought my hhc, is soo independent and optimistic, but as each single day passed, I realized that we are pretty much the same- our difference? I am from the land of pearl in the orient sea and she came from the land of freedom and liberty (not sure though on the last phrase). Also, I never thought that she will be that pessimist at a certain point, while I on the other hand, keeps on telling her that at least I am assured that I am in a room with a human being not of a robot (because again, I thought she is as perfect as asimo:) )
- Be assertive as you are- being assertive does not happen overnight. It is not the same as having a nice snack in a fast food chain (wherein you give your order and wait for couple of minutes to have your food).
There’s more to share, but my glasses were already blurred. Trying to see more in a bit and write about it. 🙂