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This week, I received a touching sympathy card from a few of my students. The card began, "You are not alone. In this time of sadness, many thoughts are with you..." I laughed out loud. Why? Because they had bought that card to tell me how thankful they were to have me as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. These students had not understood that they were giving me a card that you give a someone when their loved one has passed away. They thought it was a beautiful card, the perfect card to give a beloved teacher to say thank you for a job well done.
It goes to show that cross-cultural communication can be both confusing and delightful. If the speaker and the listener both have communication, not perfection, as the goal, moments of genuine exchange can take place. Most of us are impacted by internationals or immigrants in our small community of Campbellsville. You may sit on the same row as a Korean university student at church, be served by a Mexican server at a local restaurant, or provide customer service for a Chinese family at your job. We all have opportunities for cross-cultural communication. The trick is to have patience and understanding when communicating with individuals whose native language isn't English.
I'm interested to know, what language barriers have you had to covercome in your communication with other Campbellsville residents?