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El lenguaje del amor

I was able to witness and be part of different opportunities where there were so many acts of love expressed by different ways of communication during this trip. In that sense, I have been thinking a lot about the different languages we have to communicate and which one is my favorite.

Here I’ll mention just a pair of many that we experienced.

When we were about to start our first homestay in Nebaj, we talked about different fears that it is normal to face before going to a new homestay and one fear that seemed to be the most repetitive among the students was the fact of not being able to communicate “what if they do not understand me”, “what if I can not express my needs”, “what if I can not meet my new family if I will not be able to talk to them”.

All these fears were more than valid but it was valuable to be able to talk and share about the different forms of communication we have. Spoken language is just one of them.

When we visited San Juan Cotzal and had the fortune and privilege to be able to have a talk with la señora Catarina, a 78-year-old woman who was a survivor of the civil war. She had the willingness to share with us her moving experiences about what it was like to live during that time when the inhabitants were under strict military control.

La señora Catarina shared with us in her beautiful Ixil language how important it is for her to be able to continue communicating what the indigenous Guatemalans lived through during the civil war, so as not to forget, she remarked, so that this history will not be repeated. And although we didn’t understand her language, given that the translation was from Ixil to Spanish and then to English. I’m sure it was not only me but we were able to connect and communicate with her through her eyes full of feelings, eyes that lived and witnessed a lot of pain, many injustices. We were able to connect with the pauses she took to breathe, breaths with an air of resilience with resistance that even though time has passed the wound is still very fresh because of different injustices that continue to happen in the present she mentioned.

Her language of love seemed to be what she shared with us, that difficult part of her life and how important it is for her to keep talking about that, not because we should be upset about that, but again, for not repeating this again in history.

I’m still so impressed by the fact of how each person that we met during this trip communicated with us and how we communicated with them. Maybe there was a barrier of language or sometimes also a barrier of understanding. But that did not interfere with our desire to continue communicating with each other. Each student was super invested and really interested in learning the language. Not only the spoken language but also the love language.

I really wanted to know what is for us the language of love so I decided to ask each group member about it, and these were the things students shared.

  • Taking care of each other

Anna

  • Sharing and listening and opening up to people

Cecily

  • Words of affirmation

Olivia

  • Listening to music and coffee houses

Will

  • People that cooks delicious food for you

Josh

  • Thoughtfulness, little acts of kindness

Zoe

  • Being outside in the nature

Ben

  • Cake and fishing

Micah

  • Words of affirmation are always appreciated. It makes you genuinely feel more cared for. They are to make you feel heard.

Safi

  • Kind words

Malcolm

  • Physical touch

Griffin

  • Spanish

Sam

  • Food

Jochen

  • Gifts and touch

Kelly

  • Dance

Pau

I also shared a picture with the weaving ladies of San Juan Cotzal, with Catarina. We asked them beforehand if it was ok for them to have a picture of all of us together. To which la señora Catarina replied, “yes, as long as we continue to share their story with as many people as possible”.
I also attached pictures of the Spanish classes in San Juan la Laguna. Where the students, besides learning Spanish, learned and put into practice the language of love.

Con amor,

Paulina