This weeks guest-writer is no stranger to us. Her uber-cool blog called “Bacon is Magic” makes us laugh, cry, salivate and thump the table in agreement with her lively travel anecdotes. Here is Ayngelina with her post on “How Spanish has made Me a Better Person”.
Last April I arrived in Mexico to spend a year traveling and I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish other than si, no and cerveza por favor. Needless to say, you need a bit more vocabulary than that and for the last year I’ve been learning Spanish while traveling in Latin America. It’s been a wonderful experience to actually connect with people in their language and I firmly believe that you should try to speak as much of the local language as possible as a sign of respect. But along with learning the tactical aspect of the language, I’ve become a kinder better person that I hope I now apply in English as well.
How often do you only half-listen to your friends and family? Isn’t it annoying when you know someone isn’t really paying attention to something you say? I used to catch myself daydreaming when people told me a long story and had to snap out of it.
In Spanish I need to listen more intently to make sure I understand, looking them in the eyes and often repeating what is being said. There is no question that I am giving my full attention to the person.
I’ve learned that the gift of attention is one of the most respectful things we can give.
Early on I was told that foreigners aren’t very polite in Spanish. I learned it was a bit of a cultural hiccup as we often thank people but forget to say please and greet people formally with usted. I realized that in English we have also forgotten to say please; we remind children but don’t think we need it ourselves.
Now, even for the smallest request I always say please, and ensure my thanks isn’t a quick passing thought.
How many times have we run into a grumpy person and their mood brushes off on us ruining our day? There are many times when I need help and I’m tired, sick, cold, hungry or a combination of any of these.
As my Spanish is still a bit crude and I don’t understand all the formalities I ensure my tone denotes respect and friendliness. I always approach people with a smile and a friendly tone.
I want to ensure that when I’m direct in speech with I want or I need that they understand it’s just because I’m new to Spanish not because I’m rude or disrespectful.
This does not mean you need to learn the language of every country you visit
It would be impractical to learn every language but you can be more aware of how you are perceived beginning with your own. I have started to think about how I interact with people in English and if I’m as attentive and responsible as I should be.
It only takes a bit more effort to smile, look someone in the eyes and say please and thank you.
Many of us have forgotten these pleasantries but they really make a difference.
About this Week’s Guest Writer:
Ayngelina left a great job, boyfriend, apartment and friends to find inspiration in Latin America. Follow her adventures on her blog Bacon is Magic, on Facebook or Twitter.