Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Beginner's Guide to Breaking the Language Barrier

    Last year as I was preparing to go on a mission trip, I was so excited that I didn't think to worry much about the fact that I was going to a place where most of the people don't speak English. This year, I really meant to learn some Spanish but I somehow never got around to it. It might seem like trying to get anything done with people who don't speak your language would be very impractical, but I learned that there are ways around it.
    Last year we had two translators who traveled with us, girls around the same age as me. They were so fun as well as helpful and I feel like I became friends with them. I know that at least one of them will be travelling with us again this year, and I'm so exited to see her again. Since there were only two of them and ten of us, we couldn't always get them right away when we couldn't understand something, but they would eventually get to us if we couldn't quite figure it out. They also stayed with us when we were doing individual lessons and testimonies, and translated our words to the children as we spoke. They ordered our food for us when we went to restaurants, and once or twice had some fun incorrectly teaching us how to order our own food and laughing at the reactions we got from whatever we were actually saying.
    Although I didn't learn fluent Spanish during those 10 days, I did pick up a few things, and although they may be exclusive to this particular mission trip, they are kind of interesting, at least to me.

Uno mas- One more. Usually refers to candy and the more accurate meaning is "As many as I can convince you to give me"

Tia- The dictionary definition is Aunt, but it is a word the children at the orphanage use to refer to the women on the mission team, and it is quite an honorable title in my opinion because it seems to symbolize trust and respect from the children.

No!- I didn't need a translator for this one. I guess children who don't want to do something have a universal language.

Agua- Water. Usually referring to the water bottles we were carrying that we were't really supposed to give to the children but did, because they needed it more than us. This word was used as a demand to pass water to everyone, and quickly,  if you happened to be the person sitting at the back of the van near the cooler after a long, hot day.

I was surprised at how little of a problem the language barrier actually was. There were a few confusing moments but overall it didn't seem like a big problem. The children mostly just want love and attention, and I learned that you don't even have to speak the same language as someone to love them. Like I find myself saying about so many aspects of this adventure, it just works out somehow.

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