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Old 01-20-2010, 01:11 PM
2,024 posts, read 2,992,435 times
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We are helping put a 19 year old Ugandan girl through university. She's living in a city now but grew up in a village with no power or running water. So modern conveniences are still new and confusing to her.

We have invited her to spend a month with us but she'll need to fly alone to get here. I'm afraid she is going to be overwhelmed trying to get through the airports as this will all be so totally foreign to her. She simply doesn't have the experience to know how things work in a very modern world...things as simple as using the bathroom on the plane, or the fact that the meals and drinks are free, or automatic soap and water dispensers. She speaks good English but is soft-spoken and has some trouble understanding English when spoken too quickly, or the different accents.

I fear she'll get panicky and won't want to ask anyone for help. I've travelled extensively and still feel a bit disoriented in airports I've never been to.

I'm wondering if there's a better solution than me just emailing her an FYI list?

We will fly her direct to London and pick her up there so she won't have to transfer to get to Scotland.
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:47 PM
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I have a feeling that your "mama bear" is kicking in and she's a lot more self-sufficient than you give her credit for.

I'd suggest that you tell her to approach anyone in uniform for help if she needs anything.

As far as automatic soap and water dispensers, she'll see others use them and catch on, or she'll see the little pictograms and figure it out--if she's smart enough to get into a university she'll be fine. Same with the toilets on the plane.

I'd let her know that the drinks and snacks on the plane are free (double check that with the airline--they aren't on some flights anymore).

I'm sure she'll do just fine. :-)
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:02 PM
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I would contact the airports she is passing through to see if they have people who job is to help those new to airports.

You might also find that a message can be left for the specific flight letting the attendants know she may need extra help or advice. The majority of flight attendants are more than willing to help out.

It never hurts to ask.
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:45 PM
Location: Beautiful New England
2,412 posts, read 6,475,881 times
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Does she now have internet access? Would it be possible for you to make a Flying 101 tutorial video and post it on YouTube for her to see? If so, she could watch it over and over again to understand it clearly. Perhaps you could include some photos of airplane cabin, lavatory, etc. for her to see. (there are lots of airplane pictires, including cabin views, at airliners.net)

Also, be sure she has your mobile phone number written on a piece of paper -- or better yet, write a letter out explaining her situation and have your name and address and phone number on it, tell her to show it to the airline staff for help. If she has a number for you and she has problems then she could give it to someone who could call you for assistance.
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:21 PM
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You could either purchase her something like this or alternatively, make up one of your own for her with items you think she might need.
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Old 01-21-2010, 05:43 AM
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Thanks for your tips.

Aye, mama bear is kicking in. This girl is very intelligent but simply unexposed and inexperienced. We had to teach her how to put a seat belt on.

She has access to the internet but it is dead slow so videos are impossible. I think her major problem will be that she's been taught that speaking quietly is respectful. So she can be very hard to hear. She'll also have trouble understanding some people's accents.

Only US owned airlines ever charge for food, except for the cheapie short flight European ones like Ryanair. We'll have her fly British Airways as it's the only one she can fly direct to London. Transferring would be a nightmare for her and us. So she'll just have to find her way through immigration, then baggage pick up. I'll explain security to her and what she can and can't bring.

It's hard to imagine for those of us in the modern world, but this girl has never used an elevator, escalator, drinking fountain, or even been able to drink water from a tap w/o boiling it.
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