"You know, I bloody love Kiwis, they're lovely", I heard myself say to poor, suffering 'er-indoors whilst taking the dogs out the night before last. I heard myself saying it and remembered saying much the same about the Polish, the Maltese, the Romanians, the Germans and the Bulgarians. I think I've even said it about the French... in fact, I'm pretty sure that I've said it about just about every nationality I've met. I've suggested that Malta is the Yorkshire of the Meditaranian and Poland is the Yorkshire of eastern Europe. I've also remembered an old nursing mentor saying that people from the South use language as a weapon rather than as a means to communicate like we do up North, but that's pants.
My Dad was from down here and I've spent more of my life down here than I did up there and I don't feel overly wounded in my interactions.
This sort of brings to mind the whole Brexit thing and why those areas that have least contact with those who are "different" (for a given quality of "different") voted to leave the EU and retain control of immigration. It's easy to be wary of those who are strangers, in fact, it's probably human nature! But, as I seem to have proven to myself at least, the more contact you have with people who are different the easier it is to see them as just like you.
We're a recruiter of those who are from "different" cultures not because we go out of our way to recruit those who are different but because we recruit those who are the best and who want to learn and grow with us. This approach serves to enrich not only the workplace but each of us as individuals. We get to spend time working and socializing together, working on problems where the different approaches people use helps us reach solutions much faster. We regularly share food from different cultures, but it's sharing those different ways of thinking that make the biggest differences. Some of us are even learning Spanish!
There was a film in the 80s (based on a book from the 70s) called Firefox. In the film, Clint Eastwood is tasked with stealing an advanced Russian fighter plane. He got the gig because he was a native Russian speaker and had the ability to think not only in English but also in Russian; the plane was controlled by thought you see.
This has always struck me as an example of how the language we use guides our thought processes. This is borne out by an article in The New Scientist where the brains of native English speakers were compared to those of native Chinese speakers whilst undertaking math problems. Different areas were active in each group. Malcolm Gladwell has noted the differences between the different languages and notes that the sounds associated with the numbers are significantly shorter in Chinese (I'm probably generalizing here, I know there is more than one language within China), leading to much greater ability to remember a number series. There are other differences as well.
These differences aren't limited to numbers, my favorite is the difference between blue and green in languages other than English. Why this should be the case is beyond my limited understanding but it's a fascinating read. And who can fail to appreciate the impact on unami on British cuisine?
Anyway, all this is by way of a very long thank you to my fantastic colleague Jaroslaw Tyl who made me the cake pictured above. He waited until my blood sugar was under control and then baked this masterpiece, it's called Szarlotka and is some sort of magical combination of cake and crumble and was utterly delicious, thank you Jarek!