Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Language Barrier does not Equal a Communication Barrier Part 2

Human similarities

This list is composed of ways that we can communicate when overseas or in foreign countries, where we do not know the language.  This list can serve as a reminder of some basic human traits when working with kids or adults.

1. Everyone wants/needs attention and love. 
2. Everyone needs physical contact  Remember to keep it culturally appropriate, but many younger children and elderly adults love hugs.  Those in the middle do too but it seems that handshakes tend be work better for those in the middle.
3. We all eat (even if living in poverty)  I was a little worried about the cooking magazine that I had brought but the kids loved going through and teaching me the Creole terms for various foods.  Food is universal enough that this worked well.
4. We all enjoy sharing life.  People don't like to be alone and most seem to enjoy having a new friend and meeting new people.
5. Most people want to help others but many have a hard time accepting help. This is significant because it may be difficult to accept hospitality from someone who has little, but refusing their gifts denies them the opportunity to bless you.
6. Images – magazines, maps or family photographs can build relationships without words and can even help you learn words of another language.
7. Sounds – screaming, laughing, and crying are not cultural.
8. Expressions such as using signs or facial expressions seem to have similar meanings (though they can be misinterpreted)
9. Most people like to learn
10. Joy and the beauty of life. Holding a Haitian baby is very similar to holding an American baby
11. Kids love art. Kids are creative.  Artwork inspired by Haiti (I will also post about the art lessons I led in Haiti)
12. Men like to build things
13. Women like to look pretty

I know that there are many more…can you add to this list?  Are there any traits that you have noticed that seem to be universal?

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