Watching the Olympic Games is an exciting intercultural activity, even if only on TV.

Recently one of the journalists shared a conversation with the hotel staff in Beijing. He ran out of tea in his hotel room. As he was self-isolating and had no chance to talk to anyone in person, he called the hotel reception asking to renew his supplies. As a result, he got a tiny bottle of a cold drink which didn’t look like tea at all.

The way he saw it on the day was that the staff had poor English and didn’t understand him. What happened the next day made him wonder even more. Two of the staff reps brought him identical selections of tea within a couple of hours. Did that help him understand the situation? Well, at least not at the moment of his hotel room stream. He was lost for words.

What was the reason for this misunderstanding? Was it the language level? I honestly doubt that language had anything to do with it. To me it looked more like a case of ‘saving face’ and not being able to say that the staff had no chance of replenishing his tea box at that time. And they compensated with the drink available and brought twice as much tea as soon as they had it.

Who knows if that’s the right interpretation? What’s definite is that in case of misunderstandings we have to look beyond the language.

Stay safe,


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