Throughout my time in India, language barriers have been a challenge. It’s hard to articulate what you intend to get across. It’s hard to make others understand what you mean; and it’s hard to understand what others mean. But I’ve come to realize that language barriers aren’t too big of a challenge. We have the amazing ability to make do with our difference in tongues. We conjure up the common words that we all know and start a conversation from there.
In Puducherry, an auto driver drove us to the beach. As he was driving, he talked to us through the rearview mirror and asked a common question, “Where are you from?” A small exchange was shared until there was silence. A few moments passed by until we heard some music playing from a nearby auto zooming pass us. That’s when I bopped my head to the beat and made eye contact with the driver through the rearview mirror. Sharing a knowing smile, the driver asked, “Music?” I nodded my head then got to enjoy some of the driver’s favorite songs.
In another instance in Puducherry, we were met with a group of boys—some in middle school, others in high school—who were hanging out in the water. Eager to meet us, they asked, “What is your name?” After introducing each other, it was a simple, fun activity of trying to remember each other’s names and getting to see their eyes light up after I said their name correctly. Later on, the younger boys offered to share their log that acted as a boogey board. Because they were unsure as to whether I knew how to utilize this device, they had me hold on to the log as two boys held on to the edges of the log and swam beside me.
There are different ways to communicate with others. There are different ways we can demonstrate human connection. Whether it’s a smile, a touch, or some synchronized dance move, a silent action can mean way more than any words could have the power to get across. The most lasting memories come from the experiences that we share. And though you may be interacting for only a second, you get the ability to create small impacts in each other’s lives.