Being immersed in a situation where I must trust other forms of communication than speaking in my own language has been a great learning experience for me! I find myself being more engaged in “conversations”. I watch facial expressions more intently and I believe I make more frequent eye contact. This helps me know if the other person understands me, certainly lets them know if I understand them, and just truly adds to the experience – expressions add so much more to a conversation.
Our day at Lapo Lapo provided an opportunity to teach someone a skill without using my native English. I needed to work in the pharmacy at this site, so I left my spot at the Vital Signs/Assessment station. This meant I needed to teach some of the volunteers how to check someone’s BP. I am picking up a few phrases and words in Tagalog, but certainly not enough to carry on an impromptu lesson. Most Filipinos understand and speak at least some English, however, I wanted to make sure I gave clear instructions on how to assess someone’s blood pressure. I am a firm believer in learning how to do something by doing – demonstrate and then have a return demonstration. I of course always like to dig a little deeper, know the theories, get the finer details, but this is a really wonderful way to learn or teach a skill. We were successful, and there is now a new group of ladies able to check BPs in Lapo Lapo… not just the day we held the clinic, but any time after this day!