Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Supporter Appreciation: Nursing Students from Waukesha County Technical College Show that Human Connection Requires No Translation At All
Heads bent close together, a chain of languages began. It started in English, English turned into Spanish, Spanish turned into Kakchiquel and it stopped with Kakchiquel. Then the chain reversed.
The nursing students from Waukesha County Technical College came to the Elderly Care Center to take blood pressure, check blood sugar levels and examine the hands and feet of the elderly in San Jorge la Laguna, one of the rural villages close to Panajachel. The chain went back and forth as the nurses described what they were going to do and the patients described their ailments, while the translators hurriedly changed words into different languages.
Some moments, however, didn’t need translation.
One woman began crying in the middle of her exam. She explained that her husband died three months ago and she feels very lonely with no one else in her house. Even though the nurse attending her couldn’t understand the words she was saying, she understood the emotion behind them and placed her hand on the woman’s shoulder, murmuring words of comfort in English.
Another elderly woman, with a bright purple ribbon woven intricately in her long, gray braid, hugged one of the nurses after her check-up was complete. She spoke to the nurse in Kakchiquel with what were obviously words of thanks. Touched by the depth and sincerity of the woman’s gratitude for what is to her a routine service, the nurse began to cry, even before she heard the translated words.
Though the chain of languages served an important purpose, that day what mattered more was human connection, which requires no translation at all.
To contribute to our General Elderly Care Fund, please visit our Quick Donation option and enter in "Elderly Care General" in the notes section. To learn more about volunteering with us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about our Elderly Care Program, please contact email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Brendan James