The Language of Humanity
The world is shrinking. Technology connects people across oceans and continents: 30% of the world’s population uses the Internet; one in eight people are on Facebook; and over 85% use a mobile phone.
When Olympians gather this summer, they will connect the old-fashioned way: face-to-face, hand-to-hand and personality-to-personality. The athletes speak different languages yet they will share their victories and disappointments, eat together, exchange tips and forge friendships.
My most memorable I-don’t-speak-your-language connection came in college. I traveled to a summer internship in Togo, West Africa. A final plane change came in the Republic of Benin. I descended and walked the tarmac into the small airport. Then panicked. Every word being spoken was unfamiliar. Flight schedules were posted in French. I knew nine French words—maybe.
Which plane was headed to Togo? Which gate? An agent puzzled over my ticket in English. He couldn’t help me.
Dismayed, I scanned the airport populace. I shoved my ticket in the friendly face of a man. Parlez vous Anglais? I need to board one of these planes but I have no idea which one, I said.The man studied my ticket then pointed to an aircraft two gates away. He grunted, which I interpreted to mean, I can’t say it in English, but there is your plane.
Dazed but too afraid not to trust his direction, I boarded the plane.
Half an hour later it landed in Togo.
A stranger and I exchanged the one thing we had in common—humanity. One human needed the help of another. That language was understood perfectly.
Connections Olympic athletes and their fans make continue when the games end. Begun face-to-face, spread via cell towers and satellites, the language of humanity reverberates.
The world shrinks.
Written by Gloria Rose of On Fire