The following post details my Thursday.
As we approached each yellow light, I hoped we would enter the intersection before the color shifted to red. The silence in the car was impenetrable except by quickly snuffed snippets of conversation.
I spent the majority of today shuttling two Malaysian men between their houses and the two main Indianapolis Social Security offices. Neither spoke much English; one could only smile at me and murmur, “Okay,” when I dropped him off – he didn’t know how to thank me in English. I tried to break the ice several times – pointing at the raindrops, repeating the English word, and then asking for the word in Chin (their dialect) – but they briefly responded (or stared at me in confusion) before resuming silence.
On one level, I had an uncomfortable, tiring day since I couldn’t communicate with my clients. On another level, I felt deep concern for these refugees. I struggled to communicate across a language barrier for a day; these men will have to surmount the same barrier for the next few years (maybe even the rest of their lives). What difficulties they must face! First, they flee their country. Then, they must learn a new language while they navigate a new world – a world culturally, geographically, and demographically different from their own. Today, I stared through my window of uncomfortable communication into the vast sky of change under which these refugees now walk.