“We would like a translator.” This was our cry on Wednesday morning when we realised we were failing to communicate with people we were hoping would be great sources for our stories. There is no need for me to go into the details of the back and forth we had with our different lecturers and mentors but basically it is now up to us to find someone who can help us along this journey.
Today on of my classmates, Ray Mahlaka, went to the Wits Language School to conduct an experiment o sorts. He took a note with his name and surname, where he was from and details on his reasons for being there. He wrote all of this down in English then translated it on Google to both the simplified and traditional Chinese in order to ask which one translates well.
The people at the language school read Ray’s note and they understood what he had written down. They advised him to use the traditional Chinese option as it read better and was more accurate. What we learned from this experiment is that Google is indeed our friend. I sent my first e-mail in Chinese (traditional) and English today. I’m crossing fingers that it will work.
In order to work in the Chinese community you have to try to learn how to communicate in Mandarin as best you can. In Cyrildene there is a policing forum which is there to work with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to prevent crime in the community. Every Thursday morning the SAPS teams come in to learn Mandarin for two hours in order to help them communicate with the Cyrldene community.
One of the things many of us fail to understand is why the Chinese would choose to have a small community rather than immerse themselves in South African culture fully. Something Erwin Pon said to me is that if you were to go to China you would find an are where African people have settled where they feel comfortable in a large community. In England there are places referred to as “Little South Africa or Little Zimbabwe” because of the space that people of South African and Zimbabwean nationality have created in order to feel more comfortable and more at home.
Over the next week I want to be able to post a vlog (video blog) of myself saying at least three sentences of Mandarin.