“We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
Uh-huh. Really? Well, before I get into my main topic, may I dip a toe into the social/political arena? Some people wonder why Americans won’t easily accommodate Spanish speaking people when the majority of Americans speak English. The above quote shows the absurdity of some people but makes a point – if we’re to speak Spanish to accommodate Spanish speaking people, then should we expect the majority of foreigners to speak English when we’re in their country? If I was going to take a job in Germany, I darn sure would take a bunch of German classes to be able to communicate.
Anyway, please, please do not think that I am putting down Spanish speaking people and I want to move away from the political/social/immigration issue. When I saw the ‘complaint’ quoted above, I immediately thought of some of my former coworkers who were Mexican. I found it difficult to converse with them because they knew minimal English, but that didn’t mean I didn’t like them or that they were not excellent workers. They were constantly getting Employee of the Quarter awards and for 2013 the main laundry guy received Employee of the Year.
I took my required Spanish classes in high school and didn’t go any further. I know some Spanish words but not enough to have a coherent conversation. I took a semester of German and sort of wished I could have delved deeper because I did enjoy it.
A friend took his Spanish classes in high school, then went on to take more in college, and subsequently became a Spanish teacher…in Juneau. Why he wanted to teach Spanish to Eskimos is beyond me. (Kidding! I’m kidding. Don’t write nasty replies and emails. I love the guy and he’s doing what he wants and is darn good at what he does. If he wants to live in the frigid north, that’s his business. And don’t be telling me lies about how mild Juneau winters are. I’ve seen the pictures.)
The reason I bring up this topic is to say that because I live in America and have had the opportunity for foreign travel come up once. I’m interested in foreigners. If you were born and spent a fair amount of your life in another country, I want to get to know you. I had the pleasure of meeting a Brit in college (very cool guy, by the way), an Indonesian (his plans were to graduate Wesleyan, then go onto Iowa University, then go home to Jakarta. I hope you made it, dude.), a Swede (a foreign exchange students), a student from China (ditto), a woman from Taiwan (who, at one time, completely misunderstood what I was trying to ask her. Whew, talk about embarrassing.), a German, and throughout my years as a desk clerk, I’ve met Hollanders (is that the correct terminology?), Australians (love that accent), Canadians (no accent, they were not from French Canada.), Indians (Asian), Egyptian (excellent computer guy), Africans (not sure from which African country, and yes, I know Egypt is part of Africa.), and many more.
I have enjoyed hours and hours speaking with them about their life and their country. I may never be able to visit, so to talk to someone willing to share information is so wonderful. I ask everything from weather to employment to cultural interests. When Yahoo still had their games with the chatting capability, I discovered people from all over the world. I conversed with a guy from Scotland. I mentioned to him that of all the accents in the world, I thought that when women spoke in a British or Irish or Scottish accent, that was the sexiest thing. I could listen to that for hours. Following a close second is a Southern accent. Georgia/Mississippi, etc.
Exchanging words with someone over a computer chat box is okay but it’s the face to face time I enjoy. Shouldn’t that be part of life, meeting new people, sharing thoughts, ideas, information. Not just in a business setting, but over coffee or a couple beers (okay, give me a Dr Pepper and YOU drink the mocha espresso latte frappi-machiato with skim milk and extra whipped cream concoction).
Just talk to me about your country because I want to know.