Looking back into the history, Macau is always a multicultural city from a long time ago, foreigners from many countries travelled to Macau for visiting families, careers, sightseeings, cultural-exploration or just passing by. Someone may choose to stay, their life in Macau is a topic which has not been narrated. However, the city is full of contradictions nowadays and it is apparently caused by misunderstanding and lack of communications.
Karen came from The Philippines, born in a city where beach lovers are excited for — Cebu. She finished her bachelor degree in Cabanatuan and worked for her first job as a Customer Service Representative in a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company in Makati. Karen is a proud single mother who has a 6 yr old son, and whenever she talks about her son, I can see the proud and steadiness through her eyes. Yet, she feels upset for not able to be with him all the time. Almost 3 years ago, her boyfriend found a job in Macau, and she also decided to go abroad taking the chance to find a better job opportunity.
「我真的很幸運」，當我問到她在澳門生活快不快樂時，Karen笑著回應。她一來到澳門，透過轉介公司找到在咖啡店工作的機會，當Karen談及工作的情況時，她的臉上都是流露滿足的表情。她的工作內容跟店中所有本地店員都一樣：咖啡師、煮食、店面服務、清潔。「我在家時連煮餸也不會，都是媽媽在做這些工作。Kenny(僱主之一)教我正確用刀的手勢；Ron(僱主之一)教我沖咖啡。在這裡一邊工作一邊學會很多東西，雖然店裡的同事中我是唯一一位外地人，他們也很熱心跟我溝通、教我很多東西，例如講廣東話。對於學習和嘗試我永遠不會覺得疲累。」除了與同事的相處之外，她說在工作中最開心的事情，就是當看到客人讚賞他們的飲品和食物，單單是一句「這個很好！(This is really good!)」我就能感到開心和滿足。
“I am very lucky,” when I asked her if she is happy to stay in Macau, Karen replied me with a smiling face. “I got a chance to work in a coffeeshop through an agency once I arrived in Macau.” She works like everyone else does in the coffeeshop: making coffee and food, serving and cleaning. “I didn’t cook when I was staying with my family in The Philippines; my mum did it. Kenny(one of the owners of the coffeeshop) taught me how to use a knife correctly, and Ron(the other owner of the coffeeshop) taught me how to brew coffee. I learned a lot from the people who I work with. Even I’m the only foreign worker here; my colleagues are so warm-hearted to teach me everything. I never get tired of learning and trying.” Except sharing the happy moments with colleagues, she mentioned there’s one other thing makes her feeling so cheerful from her work. “When a customer tells me that the food or drink is good, I feel satisfied.”
Not only the foreign workers in Macau, people who are working aboard, you or me. We all have flaws in our life. The barely moment that let Karen down was the bad experience in a restaurant; a waiter has ignored her. As she’s working in a service industry, she knows it would turn up to a bad service, and it is caused by the misunderstanding between people.
She prefers to stay at home during the day-off for watching movies, chatting with her son through video calls. She loves to go to the local markets in Macau. “They always call me ‘Paan Yau! Paan Yau!(which means “Friend” in Cantonese)’ They don’t speak English but always show their smiles to me. Some locals in the market know how to speak few Filipino words. They wrote the vegetables, fishes, and meats in Filipino. I felt so amazed and touched because I can see their effort to communicate with us. The impression of Macau people try to talk to us in our language makes me feel somehow I am still at home.” A simple greeting brings people lot of love, especially to someone who’s long way from home.
Macau is still a city with human touches. Karen stayed at home during the typhoon Hato as the coffeeshop closed on that day. She lives nearby the flooding affected area. “Our electric power has broken down, but we still have water supply. So we let people came into our home to take a shower, we provided them hot coffee, an easy one. There’s a senior man said he’s cold in Cantonese, we invited him to our home to take some rest. We saw many Macau residents and foreigners were helping each other on the street.”
Less judgement, more communication. The way we get closer to know each other is easy. Even we have different languages and various cultures. A smile is the best way to deal with it.