While on our holiday, the wee girl made a friend at the pool. They started to play a game together. He was a Chinese boy, visiting from China. She learns Mandarin at school, but only a year's worth so far. The game involved her counting to him in Chinese, he counted back in English and then hand signals did the rest of the game planning.
One of my favourite things when travelling, is watching the kids play with other kids who don't share the same language. It's amazing what games can be organised when the participants are prepared to make themselves understood through action rather than words. It's a shame we become less resourceful with age...
Little kids don't seem to be restricted by the idea that they don't speak a common language. Adults, on the other hand, even with a little of the language, are often self conscious about their ability to speak it, and so we shut ourselves off from interacting with others, and maybe miss out on seeing the world from a different perspective.
What makes us suddenly cut ourselves off from people, purely because we decide it's too hard to communicate?
When I was 23, I was on a small plane with only Japanese passengers and a French pilot. After we'd landed, the pilot came in and told me that the transfer was late, but it was coming (we had landed at a very small provincial airport). I then had to charade to the Japanese that it was all okay, and we would be late. At the tiny resort, all the Japanese would smile hello, and on tours out to the sites, they'd sit with me, even though we couldn't talk (but we could point things out to each other). A few days later, one of the staff came and said to me "Why do they all think you work here? They want to give you a tip". It's a fond memory for me, and a reminder that we don't need to limit ourselves.
I wonder if we saw ourselves as more universal and less 'us & them' if we'd have a more peaceful planet? It certainly couldn't hurt.
Linking with #MummyMondays