You had me at "hello"!
Real Langat, Kenya. (Photo by Doug O'Neill)The power and beauty of greeting someone in their own language – while travelling in a foreign country – can make for a transformative travel experience. Several years ago I visited a volunteer project in Kenya during which I was paired for the day with a tea picker. Her name was Real Langat. She spoke some English, which I relied on when we first met. Real was reserved, somewhat shy. She remained silent for almost an entire day as we worked alongside one another in a tea plantation. Well, she worked. I was there to learn how to pluck tea leaves, and I failed miserably. On the second afternoon, after our tea break, I returned to the plantation field and without thinking called out to her, "Jumbo, Real, Jumbo." She let loose with a great beaming smile. "Jumbo" is Swahili for "Hello." I simply spoke to Real in the language of her people. I had not done so earlier. It was something so simple on my part but it obviously meant a lot to her. For many of our Canadian Living readers, now is the time of year our university-age off-spring are talking about their first overseas trip (it's almost a rite of passage these days), while many of you are contemplating your own first trip abroad. My advice: I wouldn't fret if you don't become fluent in the language of your destination country for your overseas holiday, whether it's to the south of France or that much-awaited food tour of Italy. But I urge you to learn a few simple words of greeting. The London Speakers Bureau just produced an excellent infographic titled, "How to say 'Hello' Around the world." I think it could be useful, wherever you go. Click here for the entire infographic of "How to say 'Hello' in different countries around the world."