No, I’m not referring to customs, immigration, and all of that. Rather how do you meet local people and gain an understanding of their culture and their lives? How do you cross cultural borders?
First learn a few words. I used these words during our ten-year circumnavigation, which I wrote about in Voice of a Voyage (available from indie bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble). You don’t have to be a linguist to enjoy learning a few words in each language you encounter. I’m definitely not. I just learned of the book, Language Is Music: 100 Fun & Easy Tips to Learn Foreign Languages by Susanna Zaraysky. I’m about to order it from my local indie bookstore. Sounds like a good source for those of us not natural multilinguists. Did you recognize all of the languages I used?
I was never a teacher (CEO/president of a technical writing company for 21 years before my retirement and an assortment before that), but schools make an excellent entry point. I’ve taught English classes and the occasional science class in innumerable schools in such places as the Cook Islands, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Maldives. Some kids may be shy at first, but they’ll always tell you the truth; for them, there’s no pretense or need to impress.
Depending on the country and the need, have some extra pens, notebooks, even flash cards and light-weight books if you have the space, to hand out.
Go out of your way to celebrate and learn about the world’s diversity. We can have cross-cultural experiences even in our own country. Contrary to what some people seem to remember, we are all descendants of immigrants if not immigrants ourselves. Even the Cherokee, Hopi, and others that are called Native Americans weren’t native, but they were certainly here first.
This was taken at the completion of our circumnavigation. You can see some of the courtesy flags from the 41 countries we visited and explored in those ten years of sailing around the world, the Colorado state flag, and our SSCA Commodore’s burgee. Wherever you live and wherever you may travel, enjoy the differences and learn from them. ENJOY the world!
For more information check out: http://www.doannhoughton.com/voice-of-a-voyage.html
I’ll be speaking at the SSCA Annapolis GAM on October 3 at 10:30. For those in the area, I hope to see you there; for the rest of you please let those you know who live in that area know about the talk. They’ll enjoy my presentation with photos and video clips, and more stories than we’ll have time for, but you can find them in my book, Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World During a Ten-year Circumnavigation, which, as I mentioned above, can be ordered from indie bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.