I saw a really nice video today. A bunch of people got together to learn some sign language to make a hearing impaired guy feel less alone. What a beautiful thing. (Yes I know it’s a Samsung advertisement but I still like it)
It made me think of us expats living in a country where they speak a different language. Except, in our situation, it is up to us to learn the new language so we don’t feel isolated in our adopted country.
I know I have gone on about this probably too much, but it’s really important to me. I love to talk with people and I’m interested to learn about who they are, how they think, what they do, and how they live. In this new country and culture, it’s even more interesting because many things are different so there’s always something to learn and explore.
Learning enough Spanish to communicate has vastly changed my experience of living here. I feel like I have more connection and support than I ever had in my native country. Every day I learn something new, a bird, a fruit, how does your retirement system work, what do I do about these ants? It’s endless, the new knowledge and experiences. And, it’s really fun when you can understand the jokes because most Panamanians have a great sense of humor.
I think our connection with other people is a big part of what makes us human. We have lots of electronics and social media these days which is supposed to bring us together, but I wonder if it is isolating us more in some ways. It’s also important to spend time with a friend in person, in my opinion. And, understanding people of different countries and cultures is good for the world.
I thank Yaira every day for her professionalism, perseverance, kindness, and endless patience in teaching me Spanish. I wasn’t great when I arrived but I knew enough basics to get started, and it grew from there. http://www.yairatutoria.com/ (shameless plug for a good friend)