I haven’t quite yet wrapped my head around my feelings toward the language barrier. There are moments in which I feel ostracized, paralyzed by my inability to verbally communicate. This feeling of isolation most often consumes me during fitting processes where parents of patients have to be spoken to in Mandarin. Since today marked day 2 of the fitting process, there were times today I felt useless. But there were also moments today in which I felt a deeper, more natural connection as a result of my inability to vocalize. Being a foreigner in someone else’s world has taught me to rely on my emotion, my body language, my facial expressions. The language barrier has shown me that relationships and connections are not merely being able to talk to someone. Relationships are being able to help a 5 year old boy gather the motivation to walk around in his newly made orthotics just by walking in front of him with a toy car. Unspoken connection is having a lonely mother of patient smile at me from across the room as an invitation to come sit with her and her baby, despite the fact that we both know I won’t be able to talk to her. This, I think, proves the language barrier to be a beautiful thing. The connections I have made here are strong and unspoken — created silently, naturally, and sincerely.
After an important morning, the group split up for lunch and reconvened around 4pm to head for the infamous Macau. Macau was, well, … interesting. Many had high hopes. Kayla and Shivani hoped to talk out of the casinos much richer than they came in. Needless to say, we were quite shocked to learn that he gambling age is not 18, but actually 21 (as of 2011). This put a damper on our trip. We ended up eating a meal that not all enjoyed.
After the meal, we began the trek Monte Fort. This is where things really took a turn for the worse. After almost getting attacked by a creature that seemed like a cross between a rattlesnake and a cockroach (but also had wings), tensions were running high. We escaped this creature, but not even ten minutes after we were scarred by the sounds of a vicious dog in a dark alley that very well might have ripped our faces off had we not run away from it. We reached the fortress sweaty and haunted, only to find that it was closed. The view was still beautiful though and caught my eye. The atmosphere of Macau seems to be quite split. Near the ground, there are small homes ridden with poverty. Near the sky, there are massive casinos illuminating the night. This part reminded me of my hometown, Atlantic City.
The night took a better turn as we treated ourselves to ice cream before crossing the border back into China. Except here, Harvey was question by immigration for quite some time. Not to fret though, he has safely entered China and is now thriving.
As the days abroad wind down, I find myself a little sad. I will miss exploring a country completely foreign. To me, there is something beautifully mysterious about entering a new territory, creating unknown experiences and emotions. I feel that these days have been of the most meaningful days of my life. I am confident upon returning to America that I will view connections and relationships from a new perspective, ensuring each one I have and make is sincere, unforced, and ultimately unspoken.
All my best,
PS. Alex also got shit by a bird in Macau.