Throughout my experience in Peru, I faced many challenges – difficult to overcome, but incredibly rewarding to do so. As a non-Spanish speaker, basic tasks became more challenging due to a simple language barrier. Upon arrival, I immediately struggled with asking for directions in the airport, finding my bags, and reaching the exit. Although I grew more comfortable with basic phrases over time, I continued to struggle to make the same connections with the locals that some of my Spanish speaking teammates could. However, one way in which I felt this barrier lift a bit, was through weaving in the community.
In our last week, we had the opportunity to take a weaving lesson from local women who worked to preserve native weaving tradition and techniques. As an art student, I was thrilled to learn about their local craft. After an incredibly warm welcome, featuring a shower of flower petals, a line of hugs from the women, and individual introductions, we were each paired with one of the craftswomen. From there, my teacher led me to my station, where she had started weaving the beginning of a bracelet for me. She then began to introduce me to her craft, initially walking me through the steps, and eventually stepping back, allowing me to try each step. Every time I made a mistake, we would laugh together as she helped me get back on track.
“I learned that passion is universal. Although we all are passionate about different things, that passion is clear, regardless of language or any other barrier. ”
Despite the fact that I spoke no Spanish and she spoke no English, we began to communicate through the weaving and what I was creating. She could see when I was comfortable, through increased speed and better work, and she could also see when I needed help. I could feel her radiating passion for both teaching and weaving throughout the morning, inspiring me to continue learning. As the lesson came to a close, she lovingly wrapped up my unfinished pieces and gave them to me, allowing me to bring the craft with me.
This experience was the most rewarding for me throughout the trip because we were able to communicate through our shared passion for what we were doing. From this experience, I learned that passion is universal. Although we all are passionate about different things, that passion is clear, regardless of language or any other barrier.