By Monty Law
Upon arriving Nueva Valencia on a Jeepney, I saw a number of fancy neoclassical style resort style houses on the way, secretly hoping Beau would valiantly announce: That’s the one! That resort house right over there! Instead we were unceremoniously dropped off in the middle of a village, Laktowan, confused and dazed about which family we were supposed to stay in.
Alex and I stayed in the home of Gallego, headed by Nanai Elma, a schoolteacher with three sons. Initially the kids were really shy, due to a lack of English proficiency and general awkwardness. Attempts at making conversation were rebuffed by to the point responses of yes/no. Flustered, I retreated into my room, took out my Kindle and read while thinking about how to connect with the three sons. Nanai Elma was a gracious host however, who tried her best to integrate us into her everyday routine.
I have noticed that the females in the family tend to have a much higher level of proficiency in English, so we would get along quite well. However, the guys were generally shy and much harder to reach out to. However, on the 3rd day, as we got used to each other’s presence, I found a simple combination of ‘guys talk’, high fives and random crappy club dancing to be focal points of connection between us and the three sons. The typical ‘guys talk’ is as follows:
- Me: Shan Shan(name of eldest son), texting girls?
- SS: Yes
- Me: Pretty?
- SS: Yes
Or upon them spying one of my female friends in my phone photo collection:
- SS: Hey, pretty girl
- SS: Girlfriend?
- Me: No, just friends
- SS: Tsik
The three sons had a shared passion for dancing and music. Being a terrible dancer myself with uncoordinated limbs, nevertheless when they started blasting club music I would subject myself to random dance moves, which usually generated laughter and subsequent dance moves. Never would I have thought the ‘shoulder roll’ and ‘the wave’ would be put to such good use.This ‘greeting dance’ became a good natured source of fun for all of us. Thus through these universal greeting methods, I was able to connect with these kids on a cordial and fun level.
We tend to be a quiet family with not much conversation between us, however, as Mark Twain (supposedly) once said, “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” Instead, dance, go to the beach and have a good time, and you’ll be able to transcend language barriers and have conversations.