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My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [435] | Scholarship Entry

“Di-ma” means thank you, “io” means sun, “cone” means rabbit and “iu” means woman. I learned this and a few more words in Chinanteco in 2001, when I went on my first Mission trip to the tiny community of Armadillo Chico in Oaxaca. I was 15 and the youngest of our team of three, but we actually came in a bus with 50 others, fully packed with our luggage and food aid; made 25 hours on the road and through the mountains, where we nearly fell off a cliff… so lesson learned: send the food in a different bus than where the people ride, big busses do not fit in the roads of Sierra Madre.
Anyway, in our little community of 20 families we started distributing the food and assembled them for talks and workshops by ages, naturally I got the kids, because all I needed to do was play. That’s how I learned about the golden armadillo that's supposed to be hidden in the mountain from Cortés.
As for Gabriel and Marisol, my experimented partners, they did all the important dialogues because I wasn’t ready to lead any discussions. Gabriel finally allowed me to talk to the adults about the kids, so one night about 10 elderly and a couple of younger parents came to the little roofless chapel. I began to talk. Ten minutes after, I ran out of ideas, so I just looked at them embarrassed… they looked back gently and nodded. And then it hit me. They had not understood a word I said. They didn’t speak Spanish. And yet they came to hear to what we had to say. I started putting the pieces together, is true the elders never spoke, they just smiled and cooked for us meatless chickens, and they thanked us with a “di-ma”. They talked to us through their face and actions, I was amazed. There I was speaking my best out, and they didn’t speak Spanish; yet I believe they understood what I was trying to say. There was no need of any more eloquence, we were all talking the same language... brotherhood.
I never told anyone, but from time to time I remember Armadillo Chico, and say a quit prayer for them.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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