Missing the meaning

By Cindy J. Austin

A new day began as the students climbed into their respective tuk-tuks in hopes of an intriguing day at the temples.

A certain pair of students met their female tour guide and quickly noticed her broken English. The day struggled by with many requests for repetition and many failed attempts to explain. The term “cushion” was used in place of “curtain” and after a good fight, eventually the students settled in to responding, “Ok, yea” to the guide’s explanations. The 800 years of history behind the temples and meaning of the elements were lost in translation. Frequent glances were exchanged between the students with the meaning “Who knows?” tucked behind them.

Defeated, the day ended with a conversation about the weather.

“You don’t seem to sweat much,” one student mentioned.

“Oh, no,” the guide answered. “Sometimes I do, but we don’t wear the bikini like American women do.”

Sweat? Swim? A telling way to end the hours of miscommunication.

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