Two years in the Kingdom of Wonder- Perceptions- post #5

August 20, 2017

Hello all, yes it has taken me 3 weeks to get a $10 part that would have taken one day get in the US. But I’m back online and have a lot to tell you about including spending the day at the killing fields and the torture prison, Tuol Sleng. So I’ll try and get you all caught up in the next couple weeks. Anyway this post is about perceptions due to an interesting experience I had with some locals. My language teacher had us go into the community and speak with someone in Khmer and then report back as to how it went. So I went to to the cafe that is pictured. I said the phrase that we were instructed the way we were instructed and got nothing but a blank stare. I repeated the phrase. Again blank stares. Tried a few more times and gave up. Upon my return, my instructor asked me how it went. I told her and so we went over the phrase and she sent me back. I approached them and again I gave up after multiple attempts to be understood. So this time she accompanied me. I said the phrase while she listened. Blank stares. She spoke to them and then turned to me and told me to repeat. I did. Blank stares. This went back and forth numerous times and she told to say it one more time. This time their eyes went20170802_000542 wide open and they excitedly began talking to each other. They turned to me and answered the question. On the way back I asked her what I was doing wrong. She told me I was doing nothing wrong and that my Khmer was fine. The problem was that I was a white man from America. They assumed I was speaking English and they couldn’t understand me even though I was speaking to them in perfect Khmer. Perceptions are everything. I can’t help but wonder what I’m not seeing or hearing simply based on my perceptions.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

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