Friday, July 8, 2016

Day 16: Just Trying to Understand

It's Monday and it was spent doing the usual... Touring the city with a tour guide then scoping out places to do research. Although this is the third city, this was different, it was going to be challenging due to the language barrier.  Usually our tour group sizes with this company have always been small, no more than 10 people. For some strange reason the tour group rose to 68 people. This made it difficult to hear, to travel to different locations, and to really pay attention. All of us usually enjoy the tours from this particular company but this time we didn't. When it was finished we found ourselves at the Louvre Museum. One thing I did hear the tour guide say that I thought was interesting was if someone spent 2 minutes in front of each painting within the museum for 8 hours a day, it would take 5 months to see each one. This gives you an idea of just how massive this building was.

Another thing about this city is the pick pocketing. Right before we started our tour a woman frantically entered our group announcing that her purse had just been taken within 5 minutes of her entering the plaza. Within it was her keys, wallet, and passport. Now I don't know if she was wearing the purse and set it down or if someone snatched it from her, all that mattered to me was the fact that it happened. It was then that I realized that I really had to be aware of my surroundings at all times. Like Dr. V has stated many times, you see scammers constantly. Some are just laid out on the street crying for change, some with animals who look malnourished, some with animals who have puppies, some with children who are dirty and crying. You see those with clip charts pretending to do research. These people want you to listen to their cause and sign documents just to distract you long enough for someone else to steal a wallet or something else. Long story short, you have to be mindful at all times. The advice given to us was to keep walking, never speak to them or allow them to stop you.

Language is another big issue but, I believe it's getting better. Google Translate has become everybody's BEST FRIEND. It allows you to communicate back in forth but, it also allows you to hold up your camera to just about any signage and get it translated into English right before your very eyes. When I first saw this I was amazed. I didn't know this technology existed. It definitely helped ease some of the anxiety I was having about the language barrier. We translated menus, directions, signs, instructions, you name it. Locals were looking us crazy but we soon got over it. It felt good to understand in a foreign environment. One thing we all agreed upon is that this trip and this city has caused us to think differently about immigration and foreigners. We now know what it's like for them to not understand, not have legal rights, to be confused, to limited in their ability to communicate.