Exploring Heart to Heart

My lips were not made to speak Russian. Living in Utah, this isn't a big deal. However, trying to communicate in Ukraine is is different story. During my three month internship in Ukraine, I learned just the basics: "Hello," "Goodbye," and "Stop the bus, please." Most of my work consisted of working with babies, so it didn't matter that I couldn't speak their language. I had American friends and we enjoyed looking like fools together. I may have been in a different country, but my communication was blissfully English. That changed when I went to Dance Camp.

Dance Camp was a two-week long stay in the Ukrainian forest. It consisted of forty orphans, five supervisors, and two completely clueless American interns. Most of the days were filled with blank stares and commands repeated to me with aggravation. Through my time in Ukraine, I had grown accustomed to looking incompetent. I did not mind the glares. However, I did mind that I could not communicate to the orphans. All of them had been abused or abandoned, and all of them deserved unconditional love. I gave them countless hugs and smiles, but I wished I could tell them that they mattered to me. 

The last night of dance camp arrived and I had all my little friends around me and my computer. After a spark of inspiration, I had opened my internet browser and found a translation website complete with a virtual Russian keyboard. The night was spent typing messages back and forth, sweet things like "I love you so much," "I never want you to leave," and "You are so funny... I wish you were my sister." When bedtime arrived, some of the children hugged me tightly and whispered "I love you." Because of technology, they knew they were loved in return.

Ukraine is far away from me now, and I don't get to speak with my little friends. However, I have a computer full of silly pictures of all of us and a mind full of fond memories of short, sweet sentences. Technology is a portal to the world and new ideas, but it is also the pathway to individual hearts.