Je ne sais pas

We’ve all experienced a situation in life where our answer is simply “I don’t know”. Either you haven’t had enough time to think or you just simply don’t know what to do. Every internship has these instances; when you finish a project and want to continue to be helpful but don’t want to do it wrong or differently than the person wants it, when someone asks you a question and you don’t want to seem unreliable but you also don’t want to give them incorrect information, or when your instructions are just plain unclear. These are all normal things to experience, sometimes you just need to take a moment, think it through, and take action. An extra layer of trickiness is added when this decision is time sensitive and needs to be made quickly. This happened to me today.

I was giving a tour like any normal day. I greeted them, walked them over to a seating area, we all sat, and I started my typical spiel. It didn’t take long into me talking to notice the confusion on their faces, they asked me to speak louder, so I did, then they informed me that it still wasn’t good enough because they don’t speak much English, just French. I excused myself and asked my boss what to do, who told me to ask my other boss and he told me to try my best and he’d come over soon. Please keep in mind I’ve only had two semesters of French and haven’t given it much thought since April, so my French is comment dites-vous terrible. I knew I wanted these people to enjoy their tour and get at least some of the information, so I decided to just do my best. I went back over to them, explained in French that I knew a little and would try to give them as much information as possible. I apologized many times for my poor French but they kept telling me I was doing great. Once I eventually got past the feeling of embarrassment and just embraced the fact that I had to mess up in order to learn, the conversation went very well! I told them a lot of the information they needed to know, anything I couldn’t figure out how to say in French we’d kind of talk out until we were at an understanding. I saw them several other times and talked to them about how their tour was going.

Today I learned not only is my French a little better than I initially thought, but also how important it is to be able to make a quick decision and fully stick to it.

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