When you don’t speak the language

While I was in Rome in 2009, I had the pleasure of serving in a soup kitchen ran by a gaggle of older, Italian-only speaking nuns. Conversation with the (mostly) men who came in for a free, hot meal was also limited as many, including this man, did not speak much English.

One night I grabbed a black permanent marker, and I wrote my name and where I was from on his placemat. He got the gist and quickly grabbed the marker from me to write his. This exchange of information made my night, and I will never forget feeling like we were sharing the same wavelength despite not being able to have a simple, verbal conversation.

Speaking of verbal, I did get yelled at in Italian by the nuns because the marker bled through the placemat and onto the white table top. Try to get to know the locals wherever you go. It will enable you to scratch more than just the surface and in engaging yourself, you will be setting yourself up for having extraordinary experiences.  Speaking of surfaces, try not to leave your mark on white table tops.

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