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Leaps and Bounds: Language need not be a barrier to communication

This summer was an amusing summer. Two of my dearest relatives came to visit me — my grandmother and my mother.

It is hard to imagine that two people came to visit another country without any language skills or previous experience. Perhaps it is easy to stay in an unfamiliar place for a short time.

However, it only will be easy in a situation in which you don’t need to communicate with other people.

Nowadays, it is easy to see that if you want to stay a long time and live better in another country, language can be a basic and necessary tool for people to have interactions with other people.

To my surprise, my mother and my grandmother did it!

I mean, they can communicate with others and live very well without speaking English. Although they had some embarrassing moments during the days they spent in America, I still learned a lot from them during the trip.

Since they got on the flight to America, I began to worry about them. Their flight from Canada was delayed and they had to stay a night in Canada.

I was nearly going crazy that day. Fortunately, their cell phone was still working. Finally, I picked them up at the airport.

To my surprise, in Canada they not only found a hotel, rebooked their next flight and took care of the baggage, they even managed to go shopping in Canada with their temporary Visa.

This is just the way they are. They are the type of people who want use every minute to do something, at any time and anywhere.Then, we were on our way to travel around America. Our first stop was Chicago.

One of the mornings, my mother and grandmother went out while I was still sleeping. When I woke up, I found they were not by my side. I began to feel very worried, hoping they weren’t lost.

After some time passed, they came back with two bags of food. If they just got normal foods from the supermarket, I would not be that surprised.

My grandmother is a vegetarian, so I could not think of how she got the food without any meat. She told me she ordered the foods by pointing out and nodding her head to choose what she wanted.

In addition, my grandma likes talking to people. In China, she’d talk to anyone, even people she didn’t know very well. In America, she seemed to still keep this habit.

What I admired in her is, although she doesn’t speak English, she still could talk with Americans wherever she was, whether it was on the plane or on the bus.

I don’t even know what she could say to them, but I can see that she was trying to use all her body language to make the other person understand.

Eventually, that person would seem to understand what she was talking about and continue the conversation with her. I’m not sure whether they truly understood each other, but it seems they got a pleasant conversation.

Once, after we went out from a viewpoint on the tour at a park, I saw my grandmother was learning how to pronounce “daughter” from an older American woman. On another day, I saw someone learning how to play Tai Ji with my grandmother.

It seems I always worried a lot about them during the trip. But it turns out I worried too much and they could take care of themselves.

I learned from them that language will not be the important tool to communicate with people.

What we need to do is to open our mind and to be courageous. Then, we could have fun with native people even though we speak two different languages.

Language is not the key point; the heart is.

Yun Ye is a junior studying journalism and a columnist for The Post. Have you communicated in another country without using language? Tell her about it at

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