Communication Breakdown

July 17, 2009

We have applications from four candidates. In her letter, Leah said the candidates had “helped” each other with the essays. As a result, we have four applications that are remarkably similar.

This is clearly a cultural snafu we didn’t anticipate. What passes as help/support/cooperation in the Philippines might be called “copying” or “cheating” in the United States; however, dishonesty was not the intention.

When I was in the hospital in the Philippines, the nurses, doctors, everyone who met me asked about my companion. They could not fathom that I was alone.  Leah came to be my companion, my family.

And when I went to visit Leah after she’d completed her studies, I would often slip outside her one-room cinder-block home to find some solitude and a quiet place to write.  Within minutes, I’d be surrounded by children and others who were concerned that I was alone.

Leah’s village is not a place where it’s every man or woman for himself or herself. Her culture does not pride itself on independence and competition. It seems that community and collaboration are cherished principles.

The young women helped each other with their essays. They combined their efforts for the benefit of all.


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