But can you say it in Swahili?

Last week, I rode the bus to and from an appointment across town. It DSCN7614was a fairly uneventful trip, but I had the privilege of witnessing an awesome conversation between the young man across the aisle from me and a woman sitting behind me.

He had said goodbye to someone exiting the bus. It was a language I didn’t recognize, but the lady behind me knew what he had said and called out to him.

“Hey! You know Swahili? Say something to me in Swahili, I want to hear more!”

The young man chuckles and blushes

Do you know more than just “Goodbye” and “Take care”?

Again, a chuckle and a deeper blush

“Come on! It’s okay if that is all you know! That is more than most people here know!”

He manages to choke out, “I know five languages, but only three of them well. Yes, I know Swahili”

“Tell me something in Swahili. Come on!”

He finally let loose a spiel of the language.

She clapped and responded in the same language.

Then, he spoke in another language.

“Arabic! That was Arabic!”

In English, “Yes. Do you speak Arabic, too?”

“I don’t know much, but my husband speaks it fluently.”

What are the other languages you know?

“Well, English.”

“And…?”

“French”

“Awesome! Isn’t Swahili mixed up with French?”

He went on to explain how Swahili is French-influenced, which made it easier to learn French, since Swahili was his native language.

“Where did you learn it and what is the other language?”

“I learned English, Swahili, French, and Arabic while I was growing up in Africa. I have learned Spanish since I’ve been here.”

“You sure don’t say a lot! Come on, I’m not shy. You don’t have to be shy with me! How long have you been in the U.S.?”

He stops and considers. “I’ve been here for 3 years, now.”

“Why are you here?”

“I’m a college student.”

“Say that in French.”

He responds in French.

“Say that in Arabic.”

He responds in Arabic.

“Say it in Swahili!”

He responds in Swahili

How about Spanish?

“I’ve only just learned Spanish. I’m kind of embarrassed to use it.”

“Do it, anyway!”

He responds in Spanish.

Spanish-speaking people all over the bus clap their hands. One Hispanic man calls out, “That was perfect!”

He blushes and chuckles again.

When she gets off the bus, this good-looking, intelligent young man picks up his Smartphone and starts checking himself out in the viewer. He smiles one way and then another, checking out his face. I can see the amazement on it.

Her conversation had made him feel much more confident in himself. There is no way anyone who witnessed it could not have been impressed by him. Most importantly, one “pushy” woman had brought him out and made him feel good about himself.

Lesson:

Even those who seem to have it all sometimes need a little bit of encouragement.

Just a little conversation can brighten someone’s day.

I was happy to be reminded of that.

 

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