A training in social isolation

I was asked before i came to the Philippines: “how will you deal with the language barrier?” There were two schools of thought. One suggested i would quickly grow insane from the inability to vent to a peer. The other thought there was no problem. Because being severely deaf has prepared me for enduring the company of people i don’t understand.
The truth has been a bit of both. The isolation is undeniable. But i find the cultural isolation to be more difficult. People here think and act very obtusely from a western perspective. I really miss a good analytical discussion, and i have not found it with anyone indigenous to this country.
When i’m surrounded by a groyp of foreign speaking people, the feeling is far from novel. It is identical to being in a noisy room in Australia. I need to seek out the patient and the curious. I need to find those who are willing to take the time to slow down, disengage from the group and communicate with me. Sometimes, as in Australia, there may be no-one. But when i do find a person to connect with, they have passed a test of character.
I am eternally grateful to those people, you know who you are.

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2 thoughts on “A training in social isolation

  1. Hey Julz. It’s funny you write about this as I was remarkably impressed by how you handled the ‘Pines when we all went there for the wedding. You, more than anyone, handled the language barrier with grace and ease, and I reflected it must have been because you are so adept at non-verbal communication and picking up on non-verbal cues that the rest of us are blind (deaf?) to. So I totally understand your post. The second part – cultural alienation and being left behind as it were – are things all travellers experience at some point in non-native-language-speaking countries. For eg, even for me here I might fall in with some Spaniards or Germans and while they have a degree of English, if I am outnumbered they always fall into their native language because they either don’t want to take the time and effort to speak a foreign language purely for my benefit, or simply because it’s easier for them to communicate with the most people in a language I don’t understand. So you’re not alone brother! But, just as in Australia, it takes time but one hopes it will happen eventually that you will find good people that realise that understanding and being understood by you is one of the greatest gifts of friendship out there. Well worth any real or perceived additional effort it may require on their part. Love you bro, stay safe & much love to Rox and Myles.

    • As you were saying about spaniards or germanics leaving you behind in conversations, that was my point. It doesn’t bother me! It makes such a neat parallel to what being deaf is like. I guess that means less adjustment for me.
      The people that will drop out of an interesting conversation to bring you up to speed, or leave a conversation entirely cause they know you can’t participate properly, they are the ones worth thier proverbiale weight.
      Everyone at my wedding had passed that character test. Its one of the things I genuinely appreciacte from my impairment. A social sieve that finds me friends like you.

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