Category Archives: travel

What gets lost in translation

This is the second of five posts about travel that celebrate the launch of my online class, Manifest Money for Spiritual Travel.

I saw the Americans walk through the orphanage’s gate and my need to express myself was as strong as the thirst that plagues a dessert nomad when he spots an oasis. It had been weeks since I’d had a full conversation in my native language, and I could hardly contain my excitement at the prospect. Representatives from an American NGO were visiting the orphanage in India where I’d been volunteering full-time, teaching English to the boys that lived there. I had learned Hindi quickly out of necessity: there was only one other person at the orphanage who spoke English and she was only there a few hours each weekday, while I lived there 24/7 for nearly two months.  So, I found myself playing games with eight-year-olds, whose fascination with me never weakened.  You’d be amazed how much vocabulary you can pick up playing Crazy Eights and Sorry.

I knew the Americans would love the orphanage. It was easy to be charmed by the hope embodied by the boys. They were smart, optimistic, and despite their troubled childhoods, determined to enjoy life.  The NGO staff (whose organization provided a large amount of funding to the orphanage) were being shown around the place, their guide describing (in English) the numerous ways the orphanage provided a new start. Education, three square meals a day, a chance to escape the horrible working conditions many of them had been forced into by their poor families. The boys were sitting in the classroom, drawing with brand new colored pencils on brand new sketch pads, both donated by the charitable visitors.

“Here you can see where the students learn English,” said the guide, pointing to the blackboard where the remnants of my earlier lesson remained.  Continue reading