Diversity in the natural setting has made people move from one place to another in search for the missing link. A geographical setting cannot have everything at the same location and time. Tourists move from one place to another in order to see what they do not have in their scenery. On one occasion, as I visited the Zoo, I noticed this young man with light skin. His style of dressing was something I had not seen in America for a long time. When I approached him, he gave me his name as Kevin Okafor from Nigeria. I had to compliment him for his dress code because in all rights I thought he looked awesome. He told me he had visited America to sample some of America’s heritage.
Our conversation bordered on his experience as a tourist in the United States. “So far”, he said, “I have heard the best in this land, and America is a remarkable country.” He seemed so contented and delighted every instant he was in the zoo. He was so happy about the hospitality he had received everywhere he had gone to. From his hotel to the people he met, everything was perfect! His stay was so far very satisfying in my opinion. He was however disappointed because there were elements of racism in some selected places. He noted that in Africa, there was less racism, though development issues and poor leadership were Africa’s epidemic. To my surprise, he talked fluently though his Nigerian accent was still notable. He was so proud of the way he talked and nothing seemed to have bothered him, he was just fine.
I learnt a lot from my conversation with Kevin. A serious lesson was that preservation of heritage was important since it provided others with an opportunity to learn or have an interaction with they did not have. I also learnt that communication is a very important tool capable of changing societies dynamics. My analysis of his stay in America and our conversation resonated with what I had read in books. Diversity in terms of lifestyle and communication was one characteristic of tourists. He was however very uneasy with the way the business people dealt with him. Business people are known to take advantage of the tourists as they look at them people who are out to spend (Uysal & Perdue, 2012). He complained of being overcharged just because he was a tourist. He noticed that other indigenous group of people bought items at relatively lower rates compared to him. This was to me a shocking revelation of what the Kevin went through. I wondered how many tourists had suffered this kind of issue.
The experience of Kevin pushed me off my sofa. This experience stretched my comfort zone and the observations made here would massively change my intercultural communication. One thing I noted was that it was not about the accent, but understanding was more valuable (Novinger, 2001). I learnt to be more unique in presenting myself in terms of my lifestyle and communication. In turn, this would help other people learn from me some of the things they do not know. If I were to do this again, I would arrange for a special day for the interview where we would have more time to interact and learn more. This would provide an opportunity for both of us to learn in diversity.
Novinger, T. (2001). Intercultural communication: A practical guide. Austin, TX: University of
Uysal, M., & Perdue, R. R. (2012). Handbook of tourism and quality-of-life research: Enhancing
the lives of tourists and residents of host communities. Dordrecht [etc.: Springer.