How to Speak Without Saying Anything

Madeline Campbell - Ecuador


July 5, 2011

When I was little, my family lived in Prince Edward Island, Canada.  One of our family friends was Québécois and whenever his family came to visit they would speak mostly in French.  Being so little at the time, I had no idea what they were saying, but my then-outgoing self decided to speak up anyway – whether I was understood or not.  In my young mind I thought that what I was saying sounded exactly natural next to the native speakers.  To everyone else, however, it sounded something like complete gibberish with a poor attempt at an accent.   It was enough for me, though.  As the mosquitoes hummed and the crickets chirped their tunes, I would walk around blabbing and blah-ing and trying to change the way I said my ‘r’s.  My toddler self was content with her jumbles of noises; her new language that she had improvised on the spot one hot, Canadian summer afternoon in an attempt to connect her world with that of others.

Since then, I’ve become admittedly less talkative, but no less eager to understand and be understood.  I want to do a Global Citizen Year for so many more reasons than can be written about in a single post (oh, how I’d love to communicate them to you).  One reason is to have the amazing opportunity to connect with and be immersed in an entirely new culture, speaking a new language.  Over this next year I don’t know exactly what to expect, except that I will be challenged, and I will be enlightened, and I will have my highs and my lows.  I will be doing something that matters, something that I care about, and that means something so much more than anything I’ll have learned in school up to now.

My hope is that the same desire that fueled my clumsy attempt at communication will help me to connect my world with that of a new one.

This year, we Fellows venture off into the world to make connections and communicate.   We’ll strive to understand our soon-to-be new situations and by doing so understand our own place in the world as humans, as people, and as global citizens.

Madeline Campbell