Ever felt excited to introduce yourself to someone only to get a cold reply or several unpleasant follow-up questions? Welcome to my daily struggle as a Nigerian. A Delta Igbo, to be precise. My short introduction of “hi, my name is Uche. I am from Delta state…” It is often accompanied by “but you are not our sister na, you aren’t pure Igbo”. Wow, I didn’t know there were some impure tribes.
And I am sure other tribes suffer from this segregation, which means I am not the only one feeling the same way. Being a citizen of a multilingual country having several tribes, you wouldn’t expect everyone to be from the same state, right? And the gospel truth is not everyone would accept you. But we all strive to live in harmony together. I have had some good and bad experience.
Here are some advantages of being in a multilingual country
Enhanced communication skills:
Being in a multilingual country helps you learn from different people about their language, which improves your communication skills. Learning their native language is one of the first steps to founding a lasting stable business relationship either by knowing your clients or boss language. This would elevate your relationship leading to better business results if you travelled there to seal a deal, which improves your communication skills and makes your short or long trip hitch-free.
It breaks the ice:
Speaking with someone from your tribe or a different tribe in a new environment breaks the ice creating, that ‘safe-zone’ feeling between both parties. It would make both parties feel more comfortable living together and improve their confidence.
Changes your perspective:
The journey of learning a new language and meeting different people from different tribes makes you open up to different cultures and lifestyles; in doing so, it affects how you think, the way you see things, and even the way you talk. It changes your perspective in a good way. You could even become more tolerant of people and their attitudes, and in the long run, you would realise you’ve adapted to their way of living, or you’ve learnt new etiquette that is good and needed.
Sadly, here are some disadvantages
It may fuel unhealthy competition:
Being in a situation where both parties do not understand each other, especially at the workplace, this miscommunication would probably lead to unhealthy competition. You think he or she is your rival because you both have different work ethics and, top it up, speak different languages.
You may struggle to get along:
Getting into a different environment may be exciting to a lot of people. It may not be for some people, because you don’t know anything about their culture or language, and buying necessities in the market may be a huge struggle because you cannot communicate fluently in their language. You may also feel a bit detached in a gathering where everyone speaks a particular language that you neither understand nor speak.
It may result in crises:
Being in a different environment where people are absorbed in their culture or conscious of the religion they practice, if you do something different or offensive to their belief, this may quickly result in crises if not handled properly because a lot would think you are insulting their religion or culture and wouldn’t know you are yet to understand their belief, so we are advised to thread with caution if we find ourselves in such communities or environment.
But I would say my personal advantages outweigh my disadvantages because I love travelling. I love meeting new people; even though unpleasant questions always accompany my short introduction, I wouldn’t stop introducing myself, “Hi, my name is uche” isn’t going anywhere soon.
So, let me know your personal experiences living in a different environment, good or bad I am open to learning more in the comment section.