When living in a community where English is not the primary language, learning how to communicate with people you meet is a journey all on its own. Since we are only in Rwanda for a short period of time we only touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning their language. I have found that at times body language communicates more than words. I love communicating with kids when they aren’t asking for something from me.
Sometimes the biggest journeys are the little ones. In this journey I learned the body language of laughter, tickles, and smiles— any action can be a form of talking. Bruce Chatwin wrote, “All of our activities are linked to the idea of journeys.”
There is one boy who I met at one of our kitchen gardens, and he was the noblest child I have met during this trip. At the kitchen garden I pulled out my camera when I was kneeling and kids raced over to me and wanted to hold my camera. They started to grab and I had to say “Oya” (No in Kinyarawanda) to tell them to stop. The noble young man (about 10) came over and told the kids to stop, while he helped me put it back in my case. His eyes were so kind and his actions were so gentle, when we looked at each other, he captivated me. He wasn’t expecting anything from me in return. I asked one of our translators what the word for friend was, then I pointed to my new friend and said, “inshuti” in Kinyarwanda and he nodded and smiled.
I have seen him since first meeting him, and I enjoy every excited wave and smile we have exchanged. A few times he was walked me to the gate at La Palisse. One memory sticks out in my mind.
One day on our way home our group went to visit some people at the basketball courts on our way home, and my friend was there, we waved and exchanges smiles. As our group left the court and started to walk home, my friend ran to my right side, looked at me and took my hand and walked along side me. Soon after a girl around his age began to hold my hand too. After our hands were linked for a little, I wanted to communicate to her so I began to tickle her. She giggled and smiled, we all enjoyed laughter and calm joy that came from the body language exchange. Then my young noble friend started kicking a rock like a soccer ball. I started passing it with him and soon enough the girl joined in. As we joyfully walked down the long dirt path, I found myself in a place of peace. I was having a little adventure with two children who I could only communicate with through the actions of my body and I was more content in that moment than I am when an influx of words are being said.