Monday, April 7, 2008

We all smile in the same language

Me with Francisco, one of the boys who lives in La Concha.

I feel like last week was one of the fastest weeks of my life. I returned from an amazing time in Nicaragua on Friday, and I miss it. I went with a group that included two of my amigas from Franklin – Amanda and Lauren. Amanda wrote a fantastic blog entry that has more details about our trip.

I have fond memories of the children in the village chanting, "Daaaayna!" and holding my hands as we walked down the dirt road together. Memories of Nicaragua will also forever include making crafts, eating fresh pineapple and enjoying the tropical climate. And of course I won't forget attempting (and often failing) to speak Spanish.

It's no secret that I don't speak Spanish. It would be great if I did because then I'd be able to talk even more with the children in La Concha, the village where we did our ministry. I'd be able to have more meaningful conversations, instead of basically just "Hi. How are you? What is your name? Bye."

Despite the language barrier, I could still communicate with the people in La Concha. After all, a simple smile and a hug can say so much. Plus, our group had translators with us throughout the week, and they tremendously helped calm the classroom chaos while we were teaching crafts.

When I was in Nicaragua, I couldn't help but think of moving to Japan in the near future because it will be the next time I travel internationally. (By the way, my departure date for Japan is set for August 7 – I found out last week.) I feel that teaching in Japan will be similar to teaching in Nicaragua, in a sense, because I'll be in a classroom setting with students who speak a different language. Since I'll be an assistant English teacher, I'll have another English-speaker with me, so it will probably be like having a translator there.

The language barrier is of course one of the concerns I have about moving to Kuji. But honestly, it is not a major concern. I think this might be because I've had experience interacting with people who speak a foreign language. I know it will be fine. But don't get me wrong; I don't think it's going to be at all easy!

I'm sure that I'll be frustrated by my lack of Japanese-speaking skills, just like I was sometimes frustrated about not speaking or understanding much Spanish in Nicaragua. And just like I tried my best to learn more Spanish (I learned how to sing "Open My Eyes"/"Abres Mis Ojos"), I'm going to study Japanese once I'm in Japan.

I'll just have to practice. A whole lot. At this point, I know more Spanish than Japanese. And that’s saying something!


Amanda said...

I really enjoyed being in Nicaragua with you Dana. I think about the kids, the wonderful fruit and the amazing weather every day.

I guess this means we will just have to go back in the future.

I love you so much!!!!

Amanda said...

Oh, and one more thing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the title of this blog. Such truth!

Amanda said...

Hmmmm....I see you added a photo. Getting a little fancy with your blogs huh!?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Amanda, I really enjoyed being in Nicaragua with you and it is something I will never forget. Not speaking the language they do was frustrating at times; however, by smiling and giving the kids a hug they knew what we were thinking for the most part!!!