1998, the year when I tried my luck working as Medical Technologist for Ministry of Health in a rural area of KSA. I was equipped with knowledge and skill as I worked before in a the very prestigious high volume institution in the Philippines –PGH. My first day of work was a disaster, first hour was signing documents written ONLY in Arabic –that was supposedly my contract. It was a sigh of relief when I met one Filipina working with me in the lab apart from the rest of the locals. All of my joy parted from me when I got assigned in the phlebotomy area, where I need to converse with patients- and extract blood. NOBODY spoke or probably refused to converse in English, and to make matters worse , patients refused me! I was devastated, disappointed and wanted the day to end quickly. NOBODY not even the POEA then, prepared me for such a culture shock.
I got a visit from GOD in the form of Ate Julie( Filipina medical technologist) after the 8 hours shift ( the longest day in my life), checkng how I was coping, and in between sobs, I narrated my dilemma of NOT being able to do my job because of language barrier. She asked me for a pen and a paper and started writing ARABIC words as it is pronounced. All the routine conversation needed between a healthcare giver and a patient.
The following day was indeed a brand new day. Using my cue card, my patients and I survived with my broken and poorly pronounced Arabic. When day off came, I bought an English –Arabic phrase book and thought myself. Motivation to learn then was a response to NEED. Arabic is a stepping stone for me to fulfill my job in the Arab world.
When I got rotated in the labs, I got my colleagues correct my poor pronunciation and sentence construction. The IMMERSION to the process of learning Arabic was spontaneous and my interest began to grow in an unimaginable proportion. I started looking for a weekend course- in Arabic language and attended one. I enjoyed substituting the Arabic receptionist of the lab and conversing Arabic in and out of the hospital. Being able to exchange stories may it be professional or personal using pure Arabic gives me immediate joy and satisfaction. ONLY now, that I can fully comprehend the meaning behind this passion of CONTINUOUS learning and practice of the Arabic language . – FLOW experience.
I am now working as application specialist, teaching Arabs how to operate highly technical and complicated Immuno-Chemistry Machine. Although English is the main business language I use in all of my trainings , my customers are into a big surprise when I began speaking in their language to explain.