A once-in-a-lifetime experience: conversing with a foreigner
The sun is shining so bright, sweat trickling from my face down to my neck as I walk along Crisologo Street. I sat down at the bench as I take a rest, and while waiting for my friends. Out of boredom, I watched people as they passed by me and there, I saw different people with different appearances, languages, and cultures. Suddenly, I remember what our teacher discussed about globalization in which despite how diverse our races are, we can still interact and integrate using the universal language. There is always an invisible barrier between different nationalities because of different cultures and traditions but with the help of a universal language, we are united as one and we are globalized. Curiosity struck upon me and to satisfy my curiosity, I decided to approach a man standing at the souvenir shop across me.
I excused myself and uttered my greetings because I don’t want to sound rude or scare him. Luckily, he was friendly enough to give me his attention. First, I asked questions regarding his personal information like his name, age, and nationality. I learned that his name is Loki, 25 years of age and that he was from India. After that, I asked the reason why he is here in the Philippines. He said that he’s here for his studies for more than a year now and he’s currently taking up Medicine at University of Northern Philippines. I was curious of all the countries he could have been why did he choose Philippines. Maybe because they have a good perception about our country and so I blurted out that question. But then I wasn’t able to get the answer that I was expecting because according to him before he was in India, he didn’t see Filipinos there that’s why he has no idea or perception about Filipinos and the Philippines. Basing on what he had said, it’s like the Filipinos are not comfortable with their presence and I felt guilty because I know that some Filipinos are making fun of them because of their color and smell. I actually expected that because I’m aware that we belong to different groups, and we have different culture but of course, not everyone understands and respect that.
And now that he’s been here in the Philippines for more than a year now, I’m sure that he has now some ideas and observations regarding our country. I asked him to compare our countries by identifying the similarities and differences. Loki said that one similarity is being good to others. I actually felt flattered hearing him say that Filipinos are good to others even to strangers. Then he added that even if that’s the case, we shouldn’t be always expecting them to be nice to us but that’s depending on the situation. From what he said, I saw sincerity, and I just felt that he’s being honest with me. He also shared that just like here in the Philippines, it’s also hot in India and our traditions are likely the same too.
As we go through the conversation, I realized that I was having a hard time expressing myself because we have different styles in speaking. Their English is kind of different from our English and so I asked him if he is also finding it difficult to communicate with Filipinos too. Like me, he also finds it difficult to communicate with Filipinos and that he needs to learn first the Filipino language but as time passed by, he overcame this dilemma not because of himself but because of the presence of the Universal language. He added, “The thing is you can speak English so you can communicate with us.”
I did not notice my time because I was so engaged in our conversation that I forgot about my friends. I enjoyed talking to him, getting to know about their culture and his experiences here in the country but I need to bid my goodbye. I thanked him for sharing his ideas with me and for allocating some of his time. I turned around and went back to my friends who were looking for me now. As I walked back, my thoughts about them changed. All I know before is that they are inclement, but the truth was, they were actually nice and approachable. I felt glad that I was able to talk to a foreigner like him because I never imagined that I would have this opportunity to do so. By that, I unveiled their impressions to us or what they think of us, and I’ve learned things about them.