Thursday, November 10, 2011

translation humiliation

You might wonder if Kelly and I have much trouble communicating with people here in Lusaka - so many of the people speak English, is there really a language barrier? Here are two conversations I had with the two young guys who are helping me with my garden this morning, Gift and Akim:

Me: Since we are not going to need these beds for radishes, I think we'll just plant Kale. Here are the seeds. Can you work on these beds today?
Gift: Yes, no problem.
Me: Do you need to water the beds first to make it easier? I noticed when I watered the beds that it made it much easier to dig. Without water, the dirt is like stone.
Gift (laughing and going toward the hose): Yes. It's easier.
Me (I go to hand him the hose so he can go water the beds he will be digging.): Here is the hose.
Gift: No I don't need that, I will dig first.
Me: But see these two beds here. I watered them first and then dug. It made it much easier to dig. That is what I was talking about before.
Gift: Oh.

Gift went on to dig in the beds without watering them first and I still have no idea if we were understanding each other at all...

Me: Hello! You are back so fast from that other project.
Akim: Yes, I think I will weed the beans now.
Me: Okay. Also, I turned over those two beds there.
Akim (laughing strongly): Yes I saw.
Me: I didn't remove the grass yet but just dug them up.
Akim (laughing): Yes.
Me (smiling): Are you laughing at me? Did I do a bad job on the beds?
Akim: No, no. (laughing more) I will do it.

I left and have no idea what I did wrong on those beds!!! It drives me crazy because I can't see any difference between how I did it and how I see these guys do it but they won't tell me the problem, and often, even if they did explain I wouldn't understand!

Just a little taste of daily challenges with communication. Or maybe this is an example of gardening challenges, I'm not sure which!

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