Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A bit on Mexico

I feel kind of obligated to post a blog since I haven't in nearly a month, but I also have a few things swirling around in my head that I'd like to spew at my unsuspecting audience. Which has either gotten much larger, or someone is giving me repeated pageviews to boost my self-esteem.

(It's Taryn, isn't it?)

Not gonna lie, though. I feel like a total winner for reaching over six hundred views.

Anyway, as most of you know, I got back from my annual week in Mexico on saturday (the 16th), and I always come back to the US with a different perspective on a lot of things. And fortunately, this trip fell on one of my more optimistic stints, so I spent a lot of it looking forward to all the amazing things that could happen in the future and enjoying the present. It's a nice way to feel, but I often don't manage it for more than a couple of hours.

The thing about Mexico is that it's a completely different world for me. Everything is so radically different for the single week that I'm there that I can't help but come away with a slight paradigm shift.

For those who don't know, I go every June with a group from my church to Cuidad Juarez, just south of El Paso, Texas.
We work with a sister church on any projects they're currently working on. Which we've been doing for about the last sixteen years, the last five of which I've been on. Temperatures are generally in the hundreds (it was between like 95 and 105 Fahrenheit the entire week this year), and this year we didn't have much in the way of shade. We were helping to start foundation work on a new building in an open lot across the street from the church. For the last couple years, it had been used as a parking area for the church, but since it's grown so much, they wanted to put in a new building.

I don't know if many of you are aware of this, but they speak Spanish in Mexico, and the number of Mexicans that speak English is relatively small. I speak very little Spanish, having taken four years of French in high school and one semester of Spanish in 12th grade, so most of what I know is simplistic and mangled, but one of the things I find constantly amazing is that language is not the main source of communication. I'm reminded of that every year when I enter into a world that I understand very little of.

And make no mistake, boys and girls, South American culture is an entirely different world from the one I live in. I imagine that's true of every culture, and it's something I'll have to get used to as I travel.

But where I was going with that was this: I always have an incredibly fun time and it's become kind of a "home away from home" thing, and this year I made a few friends, only one of whom spoke English. Because with Saras and Mayra and Erick and Antonio, we didn't have to be able to understand every word, you just have to be able to listen to what they're saying.

I learned once that only something like 10% of communication (I could do some research to substantiate that number, but I choose not to.) is based on the actual words coming out of your mouth. Body language, tone, expression, and so on play a much larger role. That's something that I never really consider when having conversations with people, but when you spend half the conversation exchanging questioning looks and laughing at each other's and your own incomprehension in between the exchange of information, you suddenly understand the value of such things.

I find that kind of amazing. It's an incredible learning experience.

And now I've lost motivation to continue this post, so I shall silence myself. Perhaps there'll be more about Mexico later, because I really didn't talk about anything I'd intended to, and I've said basically nothing about the actual trip.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Lordy, watching those exchanges of looks made those days worthwhile. Being covered in dirt and sweating like pigs doesn't leave much for rest aside for work lapsing into conversations full of confusion. :P