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peace corps, year one

say what?

Say what?

cross cultural communication takes work

I remember reading in one of the Peace Corps publications something about “learning a new way to communicate.” That sounds so pretty, doesn’t it? But it can be really hard and very frustrating when you’re accustomed to being able to communicate in one way, and now have to in a completely different one. Dominicans tend to have a way of communicating that, for Americans, can be very indirect. It’s something that’s frustrated me from time to time, especially because in the States, we tend to value “saying what you mean, and meaning what you say.” Nonetheless, I’m learning more and more how to not only understand this different communication style, but participate in the same.

This year, Peace Corps is celebrating 50 years in the Dominican Republic, and they’re inviting artisan groups from around the country to vend their products at the conference. There’s an artisan group in my town that’s worked with previous volunteers before, so I thought I’d extend an invitation for them to come. Here’s the conversation I had with the artisan guy today below. Let’s see if you can follow it:

Pablo: Hi! How’ve you been?

Me: I’ve been really well, thank you. And you?

Pablo: Very well. You don’t ever come by here.

Me: I know; it’s been a while since I’ve come around.

Pablo: Yes. You’re needed around here….not by me, personally, but all of us. You know, I wanted to get our Web page updated. Amanda and Marlon helped us out with that.

Me: Oh, ok. We can talk about that. Well, I’m here because Peace Corps is having its 50th Anniversary celebration this year in Santo Domingo, and they’re inviting artisan groups from all over the country, so I thought of you all, and thought I’d come down here to see if you wanted to participate.

Pablo: Oh, yeah. You know we’ve always done that, every time they’ve had it. I’m going to talk with the director to see. Because, you know, we worked with Amanda, and Marlon. And they would tell us when they had those events, and we’d go. Sometimes, they would take our products down there and take care of everything on our behalf.

Me: Oh ok. Yeah. If you’re interested, the dates are February 7-10, and you’d have to take care of transportation and the lodging, but there will be a lot of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers there, and it may be worth it.

Pablo: Oh, yeah. Because you know, it’s very hard for us because we’ll have to find lodging, and food, and transportation. And often Amanda or Marlon would take things down and handle that for us.

Me: Oh right, right. Well, I’m working on some committees to help plan the conference this year, and it would be really difficult…

Pablo: Oh, yes, I understand. I’ll talk to the director to see.

Me: Well, let me leave my information with you and you all let me know what you decide.

Pablo: Okay. And I’ll likely be calling you today about the Web site.

Did you follow the conversation? Let me write it out again, this time accompanied by its American-communication-style translation:

Pablo: Hi! How’ve you been?
[American:  Hi! How’ve you been?]

Me: I’ve been really well, thank you. And you?
[Stat]

Pablo: Very well. You don’t ever come by here.
[Very well. I’m glad you came by because I want your help with something.]

Me: I know; it’s been a while since I’ve come around.
[Ya’ll are in the cut! I can’t be coming out here er’day!]

Pablo: Yes. You’re needed around here….not by me, personally, but all of us. You know, I wanted to get our Web page updated. Amanda and Marlon helped us out with that.
[Would you mind helping us update our Web site?]

Me: Oh, ok. We can talk about that. Well, I’m here because  Peace Corps is having its 50th Anniversary celebration this year in Santo Domingo, and they’re inviting artisan groups from all over the country, so I thought of you all, and thought I’d come down here to see if you wanted to participate.
[Stat]

Pablo: Oh, yeah. You know we’ve always done that, every time they’ve had it. I’m going to talk with the director to see. Because, you know, we worked with Amanda, and Marlon. And they would tell us when they had those events, and we’d go. Sometimes, they would take our products down there and take care of everything on our behalf.
[Would you be able to go sell our stuff for us at the conference?]

Me: Oh ok. Yeah. If you’re interested, the dates are February 7-10, and you’d have to take care of transportation and the lodging, but there will be a lot of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers there, and it may be worth it.
[I’m sorry, I can’t sell your stuff for you, but if you want to go down, I’m sure you’ll make a good profit.]

Pablo: Oh, yeah. Because you know, it’s very hard for us because we’ll have to find lodging, and food, and transportation. And often Amanda or Marlon would take things down and handle that for us.
[Other volunteers have sold stuff for us {this is possibly an exaggeration} so, could you go sell stuff for us too?]

Me: Oh right, right. Well, I’m working on some committees to help plan the conference this year, and it would be really difficult…
[I heard you the first time, but I’m afraid I can’t do that since I’ll be working on other things at the conference.]

Pablo: Oh, yes, I understand. I’ll talk to the director to see.
[Ah, well.]

Me: Well, let me leave my information with you and you all let me know what you decide.
[Let me know if you change your mind.]

Pablo: Okay. And I’ll likely be calling you today about the Web site.
[Even though we can’t do the conference, I still want you to help us out with the Web site. You’ll probably hear from me within a week about that.]

Yep, this is my “new way of communicating.”

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “say what?

  1. LOL wow having a flashback… I think I have had this conversation planning for fiesta or foro with EP in the past :) When I finished reading the first one (pre-translation)… I was like oh so he thinking you are going to help with the website.

    Posted by Jahan | January 30, 2012, 4:05 pm
  2. lol, so….it’s been two weeks since the post, and the celebration started yesterday…the burning question(s) to which your readers (Tiffany) are dying (figuratively) to hear the answer…..

    ….
    ….
    ….
    ….

    Did Pablo contact Marlon and Amanda? Did Pablo make it to the Celebration in Santo Domingo?…Did you sell his goods?…Has he reached out to you for help with the website?

    Do tell…

    Posted by Tiffany | February 8, 2012, 11:53 pm
    • LOL! No, they didn’t make it to the 50th. I couldn’t sell his goods, because I was working the Conference. Still no word on the Web site yet. But I’m sure we’ll get to collaborate on it before I leave :)

      Posted by laila | February 23, 2012, 12:33 am

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the script

1 Corin. 15:57-58
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

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by the way…

now that i've started blogging about the peace corps (and i'm an official volunteer), i have to tell you that all thoughts and views you read on this page are exclusively mine, and not those of the peace corps or the us government. after all, it's not called "us govt in real life."
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