Team Leader:
Day 1 we returned home to the Forgotten Island to find our internet down. Thinking it was a billing issue, I taxied over, walked into the telecom building and asked for my internet bill. To my utter amazement the bill was 100% correct. I paid and skipped happily into the repair office to find—12 empty desks! It’s afternoon break time. So I taxied home, wishing I had gone earlier.

Day 2 through Day 5 I headed back early. I gave the nice people my contact info and they said the technician would be at my house later today. For four days we continued this dance: I go to the office, they promise “today,” they don’t come, and I return the next day to ask what happened.

Day 6 I reached the repair department in a long phone call. They promised again and again that “today” I would have an internet connection. At 1 pm that promise was unfulfilled, so I called. They said, “We told you today and we meant today.” At 4:30 pm the promise was still unfulfilled and no one answered. Everyone had left for the day.

Day 7 I woke early, ate a hearty breakfast, drank plenty of coffee and prepared for a different approach. As soon as the office opened I called and reminded them that I was still waiting for internet. They assured me “today” was my day. I smiled—which they couldn’t see—and ended by expressing gratitude. Then I grabbed a book and computer and headed straight to their office.

There the boss assured me that today my internet would be fixed. I smiled the most toothy smile possible, threw my arms in the air and said in jest “I don’t believe you, every day you tell me is my day.” I walked past the boss and found a desk in the back. Walking past him I declared that today I was working at their office. I would happily wait there until they were ready to go but I wasn’t leaving without a technician. Everyone fell off their chairs laughing. When they picked themselves up, they began high-fiving each other. One walked over, held my hand and said excitedly, “Not only have you learned our language, you have also learned our strategies!”

Five minutes later a technician and I were on our way to our house. A few minutes later the internet worked for the first time in month.

Take away: learning both language and culture is essential for life overseas—and for internet.

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