Monday, February 23, 2009

Tribal Knowledge

At the end of Janurary came a new arrival, a complete fish out of water, I am refering to the new inbound here in Chile from New Zealand who happens to be living in my old host family. I decided to help her throughout her first week since she doesn't have school until March 4 like the rest of us, and I visited her at the house, translated everything that she didn't understand, and showed her things around my old house. As well as Clea, Liz and me took Ella to Santiago to the feria to go shopping and show her a bit of Santiago.

At the end of very day I spent with her, it was like I had a mini epiphany each time, and realized something new about myself. It was so different and weird to see it from the other side, to see the exchanger acting all awkward, not knowing what to do, and saying "si" to every question even though I knew she didn't know what they were asking, or if the question actually wasn't able to be answered by yes and no. And the all too obvious "I am overwhelmed face".

It really shined a light on my perspective, and to think back in late August when I arrived here. I then went to ask my family members and friends if I was the same way. They all said the same thing, HAHA you were a fish out of water too! Although my friends re assured me that I was still super friendly, and tried to talk a lot (when I wasn't sleeping in class) even though I didn't know how to speak Spanish, I was just waving my arms around and attempting noises that would suffice for the words I wanted to say. Although now I am happy to say (and so are my friends) that I am the fish IN the water.

Every day I realized how much I know of this country, and that I even have tribal knowledge. I know how to take a micro, and ask the driver if he is going to a certain place, I know how to use a metro built for 6 million people, and that 2 million people use each day. I know what places to go to, where to be careful, and certain tips to stay safe, and not be too noticed. I almost felt like a babysitter, I was taking care of this girl making sure she didn't get in harms way, helping her to buy a phone and talking to the lady about what phone we want. I felt like my host brother Jose where he helped me buy my first phone as well.

Those day reminded me so much of August, as well as it showed some light on my growing and learning in Chile. Until then I knew I probably grew, but I just didn't have anything to compare it too. I know can converse in Spanish, when I take a bus now, my stomach doesn't tie into knots worrying if I will take the wrong one. Travelling by myself seems normal, and reading a Harry Potter book in spanish while I read, is just as normal. I realized just how far I have come, and just how much older I am. I look into the future and see myself going into highschool and I just don't belong there anymore (nor did I really to begin with) and even looking at the new inbounds who some of them are older than me, I feel like I am at least 5 years older than them.

This inbound shed some light!


emmaelizabeth said...

i feel the same having my family here.
i realised [though i didnt consider it fluent before they came] that i speak fluently
its exciting eh?

Anita said...

Wow, that inbound sounds like me in my first days here! You are so lovely so help her around!
Do you know where in NZ she is from?