Having no voice has it’s benefits

Alberto Servín

October 21, 2010

Within these past three weeks, I’ve been enjoying my time here in Quito. But sometimes, this experience feels limited with the language barrier I have. It’s left me voiceless at times, which has been a major obstacle for me so far. There are days where I feel frustrated because I don’t know the language enough to fully enjoy and immerse in the culture here. It’s also been bothering me because I can’t say what I want to say, which has caused misunderstandings with my host-family, teachers, and friends.

But, there are some days where I see my voicelessness as a valuable lesson. Being in this situation has helped me become a better listener and have more patience with myself. It’s definitely a change from things, because like most people, I’m used to just talking and not really spending the time to listen to others. When I think about it, I’ve actually learned a lot more from this challenge. Just listening to Ecuadorians speak everyday has given me a better understanding of the language. It’s slowly helping me gain the confidence to speak in Spanish more often.

My motivation for this is to listen and understand people’s stories here. I see a lot of problems everyday, like poverty, and like the Tenderloin exercise, I want to gain a better understanding of these people and situations. I attempted this one time by talking to a woman and her child, who were trying to sell oranges on the street. It ended up being awkward and unsuccessful because I didn’t understand most of what she said. Even though it wasn’t a fluid conversation, I see it now as a reminder to be persistent in my goal: to become fluent in Spanish.

With that in mind, I’m not as afraid now to make mistakes. I also have support from friends and family here and at home, which helps a lot. This voiceless feeling is tough, but it’s definitely a challenge I can overcome. I know it’s something that won’t be solved in a day, so I keep reminding myself that this is a goal I’ll be tackling for the months to come.

Alberto Servín