After a discussion with a good friend, I was inspired to wonder what five words I would learn if I were going to a new country. Since I generally like the idea of going full on exotic, I’ll go to…a remote village in Africa. Somewhere that time has forgotten, and perhaps the simpicity of life is relished rather than “big thinkers” who want to make it a first world nation. Somewhere that language isn’t documented by the latest version of Rosetta Stone. Or National Geographic may have been, but didn’t quite capture through the lens.
What five words would I want to know in order to survive my first six months there. Originally the challenge was four, but given my blog’s pre-existing 5 Simple Things category, I’m sure the stretch isn’t too far outside the rules.
1. Share – how can you explain this concept to someone that you’ve got no way of communicating to. I want to share with them, I want them to share back. Hopefully my ability to make friends with people works well in my little village away from home, I feel like this word would really be helpful in making smiles and forging new paths in my trip.
2. Home – Home is where your heart (and perhaps meager luggage) is. To be able to express where their home is, where my home will be. Perhaps to show and find and define what “my space” is and perhaps even understand how the concept works in their own culture would be interesting. Perhaps they are more “sharers” (refer back to word one!) or perhaps they are more private, each person having his or her own space. I feel like when I get somewhere and have myself set up, I feel more at ease.
3. Time – not only what time is it, but how much time, I feel like a lot of gestures can get you through the day, but time – and being the planner that I am – is something that is a concept that the proverbial “wristwatch gesture” may not work for. Especially if it’s a remote location and the latest Rolex ad may not have made it in the village newsletter.
4. Teach – the honest to goodness humility of being in a new place and asking someone to “Show Me”…show me how you get to this or that place, or teach me how to attempt a new task. I feel like learning is something we do every day – how hard it is to get someone to do that via gesture – it could come off like you already know better (offending them perhaps?) or like you’ve got an alternative way to do it. Teach me, I want to learn – this opens doors.
5. Try – How do you explain to anyone the word “try”? Try this. Attempt that. You may fail and fall down or succeed and win hearts, but the word’s challenge is in the ability to say “I’m going to try this” versus “I’m going to do this with confidence”. Sometimes we, as fluent speakers of any language, feel there is no difference between the two statements- I’d like to believe sometimes that my willingness to try anything generally makes me successful regardless of the outcome…but something tells me, in the river preparing for dinner, that me “trying to catch a fish” and “doing so”….could make quite the difference.
That all said, regardless of the language – remember the language of humanity, the openness of the heart to listen and the spirit of friendship and kindness make sure you say what you need to – you never know where tomorrow will have you ending.