Effective communication is central to our ability to thrive in community. GCD graduates are functionally bilingual or multi-lingual and have demonstrated the skills to communicate their passions, in writing and in speech, with clarity, precision and conviction. “Describe a time when you engaged with a different culture and the strategies you used to communicate effectively. Reflect on how this influenced your thinking about language and communication.”
I am a multilingual IB student, taking the subjects English and German in the IB and having studied French and Latin in middle and high school. I engage with different cultures on a daily basis in the school life, however two outstanding experiences, where I had to engage, one time with the Japanese culture and the other with the culture in Cambodia. In Japan it happens fairly regular, that for example the cashier in the supermarket does not speak English. However you still have to communicate with them in order to know how much you have to pay. This happens effectively, with the use of google translate on the phone or the calculator app in order to show the numbers. The other outstanding experience, where I have engaged with a different culture was during my service trip in Cambodia. In order to communicate with the children, during the improvised english classes we made for them, or the communication with the construction workers and also children, during the process of constructing the school. The strategies used in order to communicate effectively, were using our hands and trying to understand the few english word they knew. This was very challenging, as they did not have very much experience with speaking english, however we were able to communicate them partly, with using our hands, a few english words and our brains in order to understand what they are trying to say. After all we were able to communicate surprisingly well and they were even able to explain to us, how to use the tools for construction or where to place the rocks, boulders and sand we carried inside.
The strategies used to communicate, with the children and construction workers in Cambodia where rather simple. It included the few english words they already have known, as well as a lot of physical communication, rather than verbally. With this I mean the communication by showing or pointing at something and then almost acting out what to do with it. Such as for carrying rocks they would show us an example in order to make us understand what to do. We used this way of communication not only for the construction of the school, but also when we taught them English words. In order to teach them english words, we would find pictures or drawings that represent the meaning. By doing this, the children were able to connect the learnt words to an action, allowing their understanding and the connection with the new word to their own language. This has influenced my thinking, as it showed to me, how easy it is to communicate with people, without knowing the language. Adding on to that, it has also shown me the power of the english language, as we normally see that language as our ‘go to’ language, in order to communicate with someone that does not speak the same language we do ourselves. This reflects on the globalisation of our planet and the increased understanding of the language, even in countries such as Cambodia, where many people do not even have access to technology, however still know a few English words. I think that with the communication being that easy, as long as there is some creativity, makes is easier for foreign organisations, such as HOPE, to go to those countries and really have an impact on the society and the lives of those people.