Over the past two weeks, I have learned how to communicate with people by bridging cultural, language, literacy, and hearing gaps. Our primary service project was with an organization called Colombin, which works with deaf and mute youth who make pottery and other artisanal goods to support themselves.
On the first day at Colombin, we learned basic sign language on the spot, resorting to simple gestures in a charades-like style to communicate with our new deaf and mute friends. Together, we kneaded clay from dust and water until we had perfected the substance and could build trees, huts, and vases from what were once simply rocks buried in the earth. Our joint projects required only the language of our hands. Each of us swiftly fell into the rhythm of creation as the space in our workshop filled with the music of silent collaboration.
Although we said goodbye to our Colombin friends at the end of last week, all of us will remember our time with them and all we learned about communication. Actions speak louder than words, just as speech is not always necessary to build meaningful relationships with others.