Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Maybe different languages aren't always a barrier...

I had a very fun experience on Monday that gave me a new appreciation for the importance of language. I've been meeting with the Agence du Benevolat of Differdange and Luxembourg City to see about the possibility of including service learning in MUDEC students' options. The conversations have been wonderful, welcoming, and full of possibility. The only problem is that I'm the only person out of seven who attended last Monday's meeting who is solely or even primarily English-speaking (how bad is that?). Anyway, the group is very gracious in keeping me in the loop and I speak to people directly or through Dr. Stiller when interpretation is necessary. Well, I had a moment of awakening when the group became so energized about the ideas that they completely forgot to translate for me. I mean everybody was popping all over the place until someone finally realized I wasn't catching anything. Actually, I didn't mind at all. I sat there completely content because I realized at the moment that the conversation broke loose that they had shifted to owning the question - they were so invested that I was no longer necessary!

Sometimes when we deal with people who share our language we're deceived. They say all the right words but they don't really share the commitment we think they do. The wonderful thing about language difference is that constant translation keeps everyone in the conversation but, when the question is owned, there's no need to translate. Everyone knows what's happened and it's totally OK. What a lesson to learn from different languages.

1 comment:

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