Coming from a country that uses English as a medium of communication at school and other public entities, I became bilingual. I heard and spoke Tagalog first and soon learned English as I started school. Our textbooks were from the US, but our teachers were Filipinos. From there was a disconnect being able to read words phonetically and understanding the texts as they were not based on the contexts that I am familiar with. Therefore, much of what I was learning was just rote. My understanding was further developed as I watched American shows on TV. Thus, I developed the confidence to read English texts better than speak it. I was too scared to make grammatical errors that I was not able to express my train of thoughts fluidly. Since then, I aimed to improve my oral communication skills.
Knowing many people who have reached far and wide outside their domains were people who spoke different languages. Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Nelson Mandela were able to influence many not because of their flawless English, but what they communicate and the way they communicate.
One person that I admire so much and has influenced my thinking is Thich Naht Hanh. He is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who worked hard in reconciling North and South Vietnam during the war. He later went on exile to France. He is now a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist. Thich Naht Hanh has published several books on peace, happiness, and mindfulness. His writings are not based solely on the principles of Buddhism. He has embraced different perspectives and have presented them in ways that they can embrace each other. During his public appearances, a sea of crowd would always gather from near and far to hear what he would have to say. He conveys messages that appeases and calms a troubled mind.
Learning from him, I see the importance of the message that one wants to convey and how the message can be addressed so that people would listen and absorb such a message. It is not being able to deliver an impeccable and grammatically perfect English message that I used to think. It is making people want to listen and interact with you because they make connections with what you say/write.
One of my favourite quotes of Thich Nhat Hanh is,
“Look at flowers, butterflies, trees, and children with the eyes of compassion. Compassion will change your life and make it wonderful.”