A Language Beyond Words
Having taught ESL for most of my career, I always try to start off the year by placing myself in the position of my new non-English speaking students and the trials and frustrations they face when first arriving. Changing schools in itself can be incredibly stressful for kids let alone changing cultures, language, dress, food, smells, social norms, and school expectations all at once. One experience I was expecting to encounter along this tour was to also find myself facing some of these same frustrations. I have to say for the most part I have not as so far it has been fairly easy to find people who speak at least a little English and many signs posted with English and often accompanied by pictures. This being said, what I did find pleasantly surprising is the international language of "the selfie" let alone picture taking in general.
Regardless of whether I was walking along the street, in a museum, or even in a cave, I was able to witness the manners, gestures, smiles, and willingness of one person towards another person who was totally absorbed in his or her own self taking a "selfie." I find hope in this simple kindness towards others that despite differences in skin, language, and likely some times religion, that a total stranger would just patiently wait while another person works at getting that perfect shot to post on Facebook. Considering in addition to the amazing scenery, art, and culture we've had the opportunity to discover here so far, we've also seen evidence of the cruelest of autrocities one human being could ever inflict on another. At least with "the selfie" we all find not only some commonality, but some humanity and not only tolerance, but respect for one another.