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Journals from Jan Term 2014 - NURS 398 Traditional and Modern Healthcare in SE Asia

2013-02-01 Breaking the Language Barrier



Today we rose early and were treated to another amazing meal by Karen and her other employees at (insert resort name). After packing our bags we met up with Karen and were led across the street to a small market where we had a traditional southern Thai breakfast including rice porridge, sweet rice cakes, waffles, and Thai coffee. Afterwards we were told what to expect for our home stay at the Muslim fishing village by our translator, Tui. After a short drive through a winding road we arrived at the village. We were greeted immediately by our smiling host families. At first I was nervous that none of the families spoke English and all we had with us was our small Thai phrase book. After awhile though, we found it easier to use bits and phrases we knew combined with gestures and surprisingly, most of our ideas were mutually understood. 


Later we met with a couple in the village who taught us how to make batik artwork out of melted wax designs and water color paint. I learned quickly that my skills of nursing far exceed my childhood aspirations of being an artist!

Later in the evening just before the sun was setting we all learned how to fish using long nets that stretched about a hundred meters across the surf. Dragging the net in against a tough current made me gain a lot of respect for the Thai men and women who do that every day.  Once the net was on the sand we spent several minutes picking the fish of all shapes and sizes out of the nets and tossing them into buckets. After a tough but fun hour of casting the nets and retrieving them from the surf we met the group just over the crest of the dunes for a delicious Thai BBQ by village women complete with the fish we caught that day. 

The more time I spent with the people of the village the more I realized the language barrier wasn't as much of a barrier as I originally thought. Smiles and laughs shared through group activities really are a universal language. 

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