I was watching a documentary after dinner. It was about restoration of an ancient brigde. It was the Bridge of Mostar. The “old” bridge is a single arch bridge built by Turkish Ottoman Empire. It was an architecture with a history and has certain unique characteristc. It is located in Bosnia-Hercegovina, then Yugoslavia. I will not dwell too much on the history of the bridge, there is too much to say and I do not have that much knowledge to talk about it. However, the uniqueness which I want to talk about is that the brigde straddles over a river separate a muslim settlement and a christian settlement. The Bridge is a connection and a linkage between two different settlement. It provides a chance of interaction between different people. According to the documentary, the two settlements are very closely knitted. I will get to the point why I talk about this Bridge in the following paragraph.
I had a lesson today. My classmate is teaching a class but the “students” enacted a scenario where “cross fires” are carried out in a language totally alien to the teacher. The language barrier makes it difficult for the teacher to understand what exact words were exchanged.
This sets me thinking. Singapore is a multi-cultural and multiracial society. Teachers are one of the bridges that straddles across the various ethnic groups. Teachers are one of the linkages among the students. Will language barrier affect our role as “bridge”? Even though translation can be used, to fully translate the words, underlying meaning of the conversation and feelings cannot be accomplished easily just converting the words from one language to another language. This is one of the issues that surfaces when there is aim to train students or professionals to be master of two languages.
Language is deeply rooted into a culture. To be master of the language, one has to learn and master the culture as well. I would not say that I can be master of a language but I would try my very best to learn about other culture. Learning will lead to knowing which in turn would lead to understanding. I do hope this can aid my interaction with the peopel I will meet in the future.
**The “old” Bridge of Mostar was destroyed in the civil war within then Yugoslavia. But people treasured it and recognized its historical and cultural value. Thus a “new” Bridge of Mostar is rebuilt in the exact spot where the “old” had once stood up high against the onslaught of time.