4) There Is More Than the Obvious Way to Communicate
How do you communicate when . .
living in a Spanish – Creole – French speaking environment. Even just speaking “Spanish” means something different here: where you are expected to drop your s’s, shorten your words and talk as if all one word. Just when you think you are beginning to discern one word from another you are thrown into an environment of Creole speakers with a broken Spanish (far better than our own of course) and maybe some rudimentary French. So here we go again, attempting to start a sentence off in Spanish and throughout the communication struggle wind up in French only to wonder if anything was understood at all.
It’s at that point that the theatre geek in me would kick in. Body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, music and dance: all ways of expressing a message – and in my personal opinion a lot more fun. As we learn to slow our words and stretch the elasticity in our face we begin to embrace the Jim Carrey in us and find a way to make ourselves understood. In desperate times when even your face is unyielding, you take center stage and with a John Cleese-esque demeanour shamelessly act out what you have been trying to say. All the while an addition of colourful voice tonality and just a pinch of word stresses make for really interest conversation – au non-traditional style. If all fails, of course you can also resort to song and dance (even though I myself have always preferred this form of communication as a point of departure). These are universal languages that we all know and when you are able to carelessly move around the room to the beat of a song around people you know little about – then it is the most beautiful form of interacting there is. So whether it was doing music therapy with the group – assisted by two dynamic and talented individuals or re-energizing through song and dance exercises with our eyes closed – it has been refreshing to connect at a more profound level.
So although our Spanish-Creole-French has improved since our time here – our ability to use the purest forms of communication has proved the most useful. It has been wonderfully endearing to see people come to life by engaging them in this way. It has also be an incredible experience for us in appreciating the volumes that can be communicated without speaking at all.
Ultimately it’s all about capitalizing on our commonalities and remembering that somehow through the differences I can smile at someone and they understand the symbolism of that act.