Beyond Language Barriers


Touched down in Rio and it’s a bit surreal. During my layover in Panama I was greeted with a little culture shock for a moment. There I was in an airport full of folks that looked vastly diverse and spoke many different languages. It seemed that everyone spoke every language BUT English. In my haste to find my correct gate I approached an older Black woman seeking assistance from her, maybe it was the melanin that gave me a sense of comfort. As I tried asking her if she too was headed to Brazil I found that we did not speak the same language. I’m sure she was speaking Portuguese which is so vastly similar to Spanish I could make out bits and pieces of what she was saying. After a minute or two she pointed me in the right direction and I was on my way.

Arriving at my correct gate with much time to spare I felt a wave of relief. About 20mins later a Black woman about my age approached me seeking help. However, again I was faced with a language barrier. I’m still not sure what language she was speaking but my Spirit tells me it was an African language. I pointed to my ticket and asked her for hers, she gave it to me and I was able to point her in the right direction. She walked away seemingly relieved as I was just a few minutes prior.

The common thread between all us women was the color of our skin. I sought out help from an older woman who looked like me and the young lady sought assistance from me, who looked like her. As I sat on the plane ready to take off into the blue skies I reflected on this profound experience. Here it was neither of us could speak the same language but we were able to help one other inspire of language barriers. That is the key, in spite of our diverse cultures, backgrounds, or experiences we all are human. It is amazing what can be accomplished in love, unity and compassion. I’m thankful to the elder who took the time to help me and I’m grateful to have been able to help the young lady who confided in me. It’s interesting this thing called life. It all comes full circle.

Thank God for melanin!!! Whew it sure saved the day and allowed me to reach beyond language barriers.



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