My favorite time in any exchange are discussions around the table after a meal, when there is no rush to go somewhere.
Sharing ideas and ideals is the best way to learn about other cultures. It soon makes one realize that all humans have the same problems. However, we have arrived at different solutions which conform to our own culture. This realization makes it easier for hosts and guests to understand each other’s culture and to become friends.
A discussion on a trip to Turkey taught me a valuable lesson about conversations in which one of the parties is using a second language and the other party is using their native language.
Our hostess, who spoke almost perfect English, said: “We change the way you see the world. I know that this is a Friendship Force slogan, but what does it really mean?”
This made me realize that no matter how well someone spoke a second language, a play on words, an idiom, or a word that has different meanings when used in different situations can be very difficult to understand.
It is important to be sure that both conversationalists interpret a statement in the same way. This, too, leads to a better understanding of the other culture and to closer friendships.
Submitted by Ted Sanders, Friendship Force Northern Illinois