Non Verbal Communication – Lessons from Thailand

At the workshop here in Hat Yai, there are six children – three boys and three girls. Abdulah, Jaeama, and Asuan are the boys. Safeera, Rokiyoh, Hameesa are the girls. They are all nine or under. They have all had a parent killed in the religious violence. They came with their school teacher, also named Abdulah.

They were getting a bit antsy in the middle of the first day, and rightfully so in a room full of adults talking about how to better cope with life’s difficulties. So Toni and I took them to the swimming pool after lunch. We played with them for over two hours. Between the two of us, we know about 10 Thai phrases. Between the six of them, the know how to count to six in English and how to say “swimming”. We had an absolutely splendid time.

The exchange that happened by throwing them around, playing the motorboat, and other various frolicking was palpable. We definitely grew closer to them in that time. We learned very accurately how to say each others’ names, so there was some verbal interaction. But by and large it was all visceral and kinesthetic.

I got totally lost in the play, without any care in the world as I dove into the children’s world. I think the ability to not communicate with speech, and therefore barely making any other sounds, helped me get absorbed. It reminded me of just how much we all say to each other that doesn’t involve any words to communicate.

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