I really couldn’t understand a word, but I had been in the situation before. When you cannot communicate with words, you find another way to communicate. Literally when I did use words the 7 year old kids made fun of me so any other way to communicate would have been great. Across the street a few guys were washing cars. At one point I thought I could just start washing. At least they might figure out that I care and I want to help. Since that seemed a little too weird I opted to stand there for awhile. Eventually Charlie a local got me started by introducing me to a few more kids. Then I realized that I could play games with them.
I started with, give me five, up high, down low, too slow. That didn’t last to long and with out being able to talk I didn’t seem to have the same effect. Then I thought about the game we played when we were young, were one person put both hands out palms up, while the other put their hands on top of the others palms down. The object of the game it to slap the other persons hands before they move them out of the way. That game was a hit. I had to make them take turns to play me at that game.
As we started organized activities the young boys were the most unruly. They didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to what anybody was saying. I tried to say close to them, and engage them in the activities. At one point we were singing a song in English and most of them didn’t even try. One did and I actually understood a word that he said and I beamed and said, “Muy Bueno!” I think he was just as surprised that he understood me and he tried really hard to sing the rest of the song.
As we transitioned to another activity, drawing, they boys couldn’t keep it together any longer. While trying to help them listen to the adults saying what I think was get off the table a fight broke out. One kid fell down another got pushed and some kid in retaliation spit right in another kids face. There were four or five involved, luckily “no” works in Spanish as well. I grabbed two of them and set them on the ground just to try to separate the kids before it go out of hand. After separating and getting them working on a drawing or two we had a moment of sanity before we went out to the neighborhood.
I guess now that the spit is done flying I have a quick thought. Nearly 5000 miles from home a language barrier, huge economic disparity, yet it doesn’t seem much different. I mean, boys will be boys, and people will be people. We get upset, we throw a punch, hurt our friends and find ourselves in need of forgiveness.