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Brazil Indiana, Gateway to the Orient?

Posted Monday, July 28, 2008, at 8:36 AM

When we first moved to Indiana I had occasion to call one of the Indianapolis hospitals. The operator, as operators always do, "asked" if I would please hold. I absent mindedly said, "yes, but I'm calling from Brazil." My call went straight through.

Since then I have learned to be more circumspect in my "foreign" calls, unless I don't want to be put on hold.

Brazil as an international destination came to fruition last week. Our son, Nathan, who owns and runs Computer Central, received a truly original call for help from the library last Monday. Seems there were some folks who needed help with their computer, but who spoke only Chinese. They did have an "interpreter" with them who spoke some English. Nathan said he'd try to help.

The next morning, a man and young girl about 13 were waiting for the doors to open. The interpreter was not with them. The father was attempting to get what we think was a brother on the phone to tell Nathan what they needed done with the computer. He either got no signal or no answer for about 20 minutes. Finally I suggest trying to call Cathryn, who I knew was visiting Brazil from her home in China.

Cathryn Fine Yang is one of the finer examples of American exports to the world. As I blogged about her on June 26: You may not know them, but Cathryn and Nicholas Yang represent Brazil Indiana in a way that brings honor to our city. Their work in reaching and helping involves going to people in places and circumstances which we in America can never fully appreciate.

Just about the time I got hold of Cathryn, Nathan got it across to the father that his laptop could not be turned on without the power supply. He immediately left for the infamous parts unknown, leaving daughter standing there alone. I handed the phone to daughter so Cathryn could at least find out what they needed. The girl's face brightened considerably. Finally here was someone who not only was talking directly to her, but someone who spoke her language (computer). All she wanted was to get on the Internet.

The father was gone long enough for daughter, being a teenager, to get bored and take a walk down the street. Father returned, looked around a bit confused and used one of his hard learned English words to ask about his girl, "baby?"

A few minutes later Nathan asked could my friend Cathryn read Chinese? I was sure she could. The laptop was all in Chinese. However, somehow Nathan got it to Google. Now the girl knew exactly what to do. Apparently Google in Chinese is Google.

We never did find out why people who spoke virtually no English would find themselves alone in Brazil, Ind.. Nathan pointed out, though, that we'd be just as lost in China where we couldn't speak or read the language. Just be glad we could help. Besides, we learned a word to use if alone and confused in China, Google.

If the Olympics are ever held in our town, I'm putting in a call from Brazil to Cathryn in China.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@joink.com.

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Having traveled some in my younger years, I know how it feels not to be able to communicate the simplest of questions, requests, or ideas. I'm glad that the Chinese-speaking individuals happened to contact one of our local business who could and would invest the time and effort to render asstistance. There are many companies, mainly larger ones, that would not have bothered if they had no one available on the spot that understood Chinese, it would not have been worth their time. Just one of the greatest examples of the worth of small, local companies and merchants.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Mon, Jul 28, 2008, at 3:14 PM

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