What Caleb Is Learning About Communication
REPORT FROM THE ORPHANAGE BY CALEB RUDGE
Words are so powerful. This week I learned how to communicate with and without them.
Most of the orphans Rachel, Jesse, Isabelle, and I came in contact with had a very basic grasp of the English language. In turn, we didn't even have simple Laotian vocabulary under our belts. We realized that in order to get our ideas across we would have to do two things -- gauge the orphans comprehension, as well as try and learn enough Laos to get basic instructions across.
We started where it was easiest -- with the oldest boys and girls that had the most education in English. After developing a relationship, we felt comfortable enough to quiz them about the words we wanted to learn most. Hello: "Saabaidee". Thank you: "Kup Chai". Beautiful: "Nam Li". The list goes on.
After rounding up the orphans with "Ma!" (Come!"), we were then challenged to use mostly sign language to get across our message or instruction.
As long as we didn't speak too fast and slipped in as many smiles as possible, we were mostly successful.
Lots of kids that didn't understand, in the beginning, were eventually able to follow basic commands and respond.
It was encouraging to see that the lack of a common language was not a barrier, but an emulsifier. The mutual goal of being able to communicate and comprehend each others' mother tongue created a polar attraction.
When I mispronounced or misinterpreted an instruction of theirs, the amount of smiles and laughter produced was enough to give a two-year old wrinkles. Thank goodness the orphans were as forgiving as they were hungry for knowledge -- otherwise they would have gotten tired of my western tongue pretty quickly.
With or without words, communication is as necessary as it possible.
I implore anyone and everyone who just read this post to go out of their way and speak with someone they wouldn't otherwise have a reason to. Communicate for the sake of communicating. It's fun. It's educational.
Most importantly, it's part of what makes us human. If you mess up in doing so, at least there is a chance that you'll make someone laugh like a child.
Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at July 10, 2012 10:19 PM
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