By Deck cadet Carla Campomanes
Being in a class of mixed nationalities was something that was new to me. When we were first told that we are going to attend a Maritime English Training with Vietnamese and Indonesians, I was actually excited. I always loved trying something new and it sounded like an experience, something I will remember and learn from.
Our training was held at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in Makati, Philippines under Mr. Ariel Raynes. On the first day, we had this activity where we were given one small piece of paper each, and our task was to find the other person who got a word that will complete ours (eg. Metal + Detector = Metal Detector). We were a mixed group so there is that possibility of pairing with a foreigner. The first struggle I found was that I was having a hard time trying to understand what some of the foreigners were saying because of their accent. I did not know how to ask them to repeat what they just said because I did not want to seem like an idiot, or worse, I did not want to offend them. Another struggle was the uncertainty that if I am speaking in a way that they understand, because I did not want to seem arrogant or proud. But as we went on with the training, I realized, well at least for me, that the training was not just all about learning English better. It is also about learning to interact with people who are completely different from me; different native tongue, different culture, different upbringing, different religion.
As the days went on and as the activities kept on coming, I realized that this was not like the English that I had in high school, where they simply taught me grammar, sentence composition, and the like. This training did not solely focus on language, but on the process and successful carrying out of communication as well. Effective communication, I realized, is more important to learn.
In a few months when I finally board a TK vessel, I will be living with people from across the globe. When this day comes and goes on for months, I cannot actually expect everyone to speak to me in flawless English or in Filipino, which I will easily understand. In reality, it’s not all about the language. What we should give utmost consideration to when conversing with others is the understanding Is what I’m saying understood by who I’m speaking to?â€ This is what makes for effective communication. And the role of the listener is to give feedback on whether what was said was understood or not. Problems usually arise because people tend to focus on just delivering what they have in mind, without taking into consideration the fact that if what he/she just said was absorbed or taken in by the one he/she is speaking with.
For 6 days I was in a room full of Filipinos, Indonesians and Vietnamese. We had meals together, we shared jokes, and we asked about each others countries and culture, I asked them about the job and the life on board. Now to give a self-evaluation, I can confidently say that the environment plus the activities made me learn, apply and practice effective communication.
In our Maritime English Training, near the end of every day, each of us was given a chance to speak up front and impromptu. During these activities, I learned to manage my nervousness. So what exactly do I mean by managing Nervousness? Nervousness is often seen as an enemy when it comes to public speaking. It makes you stutter; it makes you go in circles with what you are saying, or worse, leads you off topic; it blocks your mind and makes you forget lines you are certain you knew before you stood in front, and saw all those eyes looking at you and waiting for what you are going to say. After days of having to come face to face with this nervousnessâ€, I managed to find a way to make it something that will work to my advantage. I saw nervousness as an emotion that will keep me aware and conscious. Aware in a way that I have given extra attention to the words I was saying, in a way that I have watched how my speech was going and whether it still made sense. Conscious in a way that I was able to translate the looks of my audience to what they were actually thinking; if they can keep up with what I was saying, if I was using vocabulary that everyone understood or if they can hear me clearly. This nervousness actually turned into a friend, a friend that helped me make my speeches or small talks in front, more sensible and understood by everyone. Also, this nervousness gave me some sort of an adrenaline that made my blood pump really hard, and having that on my shoulders for the span of my stay in front, gave me that rewarding feeling whenever I think that I closed or finished successfully. That to me is important too, because when I do something, it is not all about the work and the effort, it is also about that gratification I get afterwards, knowing that I did a good job.
Lastly, I would like to thank Teekay for giving me the opportunity to join a class as such. The experience was rich and I can honestly say that I learned a lot. I also now have new fond memories to look back to and lessons to refresh to whenever I find myself in a situation, where speaking with another turns into somewhat of a challenge. I know that what I learned and picked up during that 6-day training is something that will be of use to me when I go on board. This will not only make me more interactive with the people I am going to be working with, but also, this will help me be able to build the strongest foundation in teamwork: Effective Communication.