Xuan on cross-cultural communication

TechGirls 2018 US Youth Ambassador, Xuan shares her cross-cultural tips

All the TechGirls know English as well as their native language of Arabic. I started the program with no knowledge of Arabic and it was easy for the girls to speak in their native tongue without them realizing it. I occasionally find myself attempting to follow a conversation in Arabic. Although I have slowly begun to recognize arabic words here and there, knowing “salam” which means hello, and “habibi” which means baby, it doesn’t quite help me understand. In order to overcome the language barrier, I use the following foolproof methods that, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, will also help you fake your way through an Arabic conversation.

Method 1: Pretend that you understand perfectly, nod you head vigorously, and give silly responses like “yes, I completely agree!” until the speaker notices that you are out of context and registers that you can’t understand.

Method 2: Be direct and tell them you don’t understand.

Method 3: Waiting until after the Arabic speaker/s are finished before asking for a translation or asking your neighbor to translate along for you.