Like a good bit of my classmates, I went to a recording for a radio talk show for some extra credit in my Gerontology class. Unlike some of my classmates who decided to study up/hang around at school during the down time between school ended and the talk show began, I went home and grabbed a quick dinner. Because of my mom's fear of me not being able to find a parking spot, I rode a bus to the station, which actually is pretty close to the Union Station in Los Angeles. Little did I know, I got something that is worth a lot more than the 5 points of extra credit my Gerontology class.
First, my mom dropped me off the station where I would have ridden the Metro Bus. Since I just missed one bus, I waited patiently for the next bus. As the next bus came by a few minutes later, an old lady told me as I was about to pull off my wallet (at first in English then Cantonese), "If you help me onto the bus, you don't have to pay a thing because I have this 'unique' bus pass." Being the OT that I am (not for saving the $1.25), I helped her onto the bus and sure enough... I got in for free! Luckily, because the bus was not quite full, we found a spot at the front of the bus and started chatting.
At first, she mentioned that she was surprised that a young person like me could speak Cantonese pretty well. Then, we asked each other where we would be going. After that, it was here where I was surprised. First, she mentioned the most well-known son, who is a well-known faculty in Hong Kong's Polytechnic University in Civic and Structural Engineering. Then, she mentioned his list of accomplishments, which included some worldly recognized awards. All I could say to her was, "Wow! I couldn't find a superlative to describe how smart this son of yours." She continued on her next son, who works in a high-stature position for well-known Hong Kong billionaire named Li Ka-Shing. After that, she mentioned that her daughter works for another high-stature position for HSBC... and her brothers suggested her to retire because they would make more than enough to support her if she wants to. As for that lady herself, she worked a good 30 years in pretty much all the hospitals in Hong Kong. She told me that wherever the government wanted her to go, she would go. She used to live off the pension from the Hong Kong government. But, now she is earning her income through SSI and SSDI (perhaps), since she suffered a stroke 2 years ago. She said that while it might be a decrease in income, but she always believe in "知足常乐“, or "one should make the best use of what he/she has".
Next, she asked me where I am going to school. So, I naturally replied that I am going to OT school in USC. Then, she started to share some of her life advices. Being a person who respects elders, I of course listen. So she said to me, "The only person you can trust is yourself. You can't trust anyone. Don't borrow money from anyone, because if you borrowed money from anyone, you could damage relationships if you don't help him/her later... perhaps for much more money than you borrowed for. Also, never ever drink! I don't care if you are doing it with your classmates, you don't do it, period!" Then, based on this discussion, I mentioned my faith to her. (I know this is a no-no if it's a clinic setting. But I simply was putting on my individual hat here, since I thought morals would be a decent transition point.) I then know that she's a Catholic and seemed to have some biased views about Christianity. So, I quickly defused that by presented what I experienced... which means no harm no foul here. We talked for 5 more minutes before I got off the bus.
When I got off the bus, I was like, "I need to jot this experience down ASAP because my classmates (and those out in the OT community) could benefit from reading about this experience!" After all, by me using Cantonese here, I showed a commitment to keep this language as sharp as possible. Thus, I could be more comfortable if I were to talk to a Cantonese speaking OT or client, which highlights the "globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society's occupational needs". The more I am familiar with being able to carry such conversations in my native language, it would only help me in the workplace! Another lesson I am practicing is being respectful to the other person's culture. Yes, having some understanding of Chinese culture helped me here. But, it's good practice to be empathetic even though I actually don't agree on some minute aspects of Chinese culture.
As for the radio show... it was great. I actually was thinking about my bus experience as I was listening.