Mosquitoes. Even with the doors and windows closed they seem to feast upon me as I sit here at my dining table. My feet -which were covered in greasy bug spray –are now covered with little red spots, each one a testimony to the persistence of my night-time visitors. I’m looking at the slats high on the wall that allow ventilation in our home and wondering which would be better: suffocating from the heat or being eaten alive by mosquitoes. The temperature is tolerable right now, made pleasant by way of a floor fan that helps keep too many bugs from landing on me. Still, my fingers leave sweaty marks on the keyboard and it’s not even the hot season… this is internship and I am loving every minute of it.
Today marked the one month mark since I arrived here on the island. I have lived in Asia for a whole month. Even as I type this it is beyond my comprehension. I have never before spent more than three consecutive weeks outside of the United States and here I am, having lived the first of sixteen months in Asia. Do wonders ever cease?
I have been sitting here at my dining table organizing my notes on Cross-Cultural Communication. Thinking about communication served as a reminder of my own need to communicate to those at home in the US… such as in emails, updates, blog… Blog! I realize that my plan to post an entry every week has not been well followed up to this point. In my defense, I have posted every other week.
Communication (in every sense of the word) has become more complicated in the past month. I am no longer living on campus or at home. I do not see friends and family on a daily basis. I rarely use the telephone as it is expensive. I did not have internet access for the first two and a half weeks. Sometimes my network is dreadfully slow and it takes half an hour to download a file. At other times, I lose connection every few minutes and sending an email becomes an epic adventure. Finding the time to post a blog can be stressful. How much I took for granted while at home!
I feel disconnected from the life that I knew back in the States. I don’t go the same places or do the same things and even if I do something that I would do at home, the manner is so foreign that it doesn’t relate to what I know. It has been difficult to explain how I am doing when I don’t know how to explain how I live. I may share about what I am doing, but there is not basis of understanding for many of those that I share with. This has been frustrating because I want to be able to communicate what I am experiencing and thinking but lack the ability to do so adequately.
I realize that with internship I am going back to the basics. I am not only learning to communicate in my target language here; I am learning how to communicate in English with those who are at home while I am living here. At times I do feel like a small child again, especially when I am only capable of communicating the most basic concepts in an over-simplified manner. I am relearning what it is like to formulate an idea and weigh my words carefully in effort to be understood. Most importantly, I am remembering why communication matters so much in the first place.
Communicating is the key for relationship. A breakdown in communication results in a breakdown in relationship. For what is relationship apart from knowing and being known? Being removed from physical proximity to those dear to me has created a newfound appreciation for their words. When words are really all you have, they become oh so important. I have found that I cherish the kind words in my mother’s regular emails. Some of the simplest phrases have been such beautiful sources of encouragement. That is what her words do for me: they bestow courage. And this is what I want to be. I want to be a woman who speaks life and encouragement to others. I want to share my heart and my life through timely, well-spoken words. May these first, basic lessons in communication serve as the springboard for a lifetime of being trained in my ability to share life with those around me.
Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.