Tag Archives: communication

CommUnity

This experience has transformed my understanding of community in a number of ways.

We’ve seen how the border lands can harden the hearts of people through grueling physical challenges of the desert and the threatening control of the cartel, but we’ve also seen how the community there can heal any physical or emotional wounds. For every heartbreaking story, we heard two hopeful stories of people working together towards justice.

Community is the fuel of every fire there — fires of hope, justice, dreams, spirituality, friendship, and family. There is more of an emphasis on community than anything else. Poverty emphasizes living within the means, and finding faith in reality, however simple.

Living simply without man-made pressures of excessive materialism has allowed these people to focus on community and relationship. These people don’t work for nicer cars, branded watches, or giant houses — they work for their families and children to have better lives. They find joy in community — the intersection of communication and unity.

Communication, in its many forms, connects people across different realities to unify us all in the common threads of our humanity. Laughter, smiles, tears, hugs — the kind of communication that does not require words, are the types of gestures that transcend cultural and linguistic barriers. Where norms, expectations and values vary across different political and economic cultures, these types of communication remind us that no matter our differences, we’re all created in the same likeness of God. We, as humans, possess all of the same emotional capacities of love and compassion, but also heartbreak.

A symbol of peace and love on the wall in downtown Nogales, Sonora
A symbol of peace and love on the wall in downtown Nogales, Sonora

It has been fulfilling to be reminded of these consistencies of humanity, and carry those memories with me beyond the border lands. In addition to that, I am particularly grateful to have been able to record these intentional conversations (i.e. interviews) and images of the reality of Nogales and bring them home to share with the world.

I was reminded of the way communication can unify the communities of migrants and activists in Nogales. I was reminded of the way communication allowed us to be in solidarity with these people, despite cultural barriers. And I was also reminded of the way documentary-style communication can bear witness to the rest of the world. Our documentary has taken on a life of itself. Now the stories we heard won’t end with us, they’ll continue on to plant seeds with anyone willing to listen.

Chubby bunny

In Africa, the sky seems larger and more distant than at home in the states. The clouds give the illusion that you are somehow both above and below them. Looking up at the immense ceiling of marbled blue and grey, I find it hard to dispute the existence of a sky god. Compared to the red land at my feet, the landscape above is the hardest to fathom.

But as my stay in Africa lengthens, it is not the surrounding landscape but the emergence of two vividly separate cultures mixing that proves the most complicated. Riding in a bus across Uganda can provide the hasty impression that the closest I will ever get to making a connection with these foreign people is a wave and a smile, mostly from the young.

But like the limited view one sees from the inside of a window, my own personal understanding of human connection was limited. I made relationships today with others, and we did not speak the same language. Drawing pictures in the crusty dirt with children that knew no English, laughing with them at our drawings of elephants and smiling suns and flowers, I did not need words to share human emotion. Learning a customary dance and how to carve a traditional harp only required watching and caring. I was able to smile, laugh and sing with a people whose world is remarkably different from my own. No English, Swahili, or any other verbal understanding was necessary.

We as humans can communicate in so many ways. Verbal connection is only a small piece. I would wish that others would not limit themselves to new experiences because of verbal walls. Deeper in us is a stronger bond that does not require words. In both our darkest and brightest moments sometimes only a tear, hug, or smile is needed to let someone understand how you care. We share human life together, after all. The experience I had today would have been less powerful if it were just words.