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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Language Barriers ---

Two Flights, a three hour layover in Newark, a salad for lunch at Panera and a 3 hour nap.

That has been my whole day so far, but I’m getting ready for meeting with the Beaver Piecemakers in Beaver, PA in just a little bit…it’s time to wake up, pull the energy out of my back pocket ((I think it has to be hiding in there somewhere)) and get ready for a good time!

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who didn’t speak your language at all?

When I stood in line to board the plane in Newark bound for Pittsburgh, they had wheeled a lady evidently from India by the sari she wore as well as the rest of her appearance.

I can only imagine what a grueling trip that had been for her thus far --- if she was in Newark in the morning….that meant that she had just deplaned in Newark from whichever area of her country she came from – the writing on the store tote bag she carried was definitely not English nor printed in the USA – again, I’m assuming it was India at this point. 

She looked road weary and confused –and the flight attendant told us to hold off boarding a while so she could get her settled into her seat because she’d be fighting upstream if we followed her back into the plane.

Upon boarding I found that the lady from India, who looked like she was nearing 75 or so ((I’m being generous here!)) was in the seat directly next to me.

I smiled, she smiled --- she pointed to her boarding pass and mumbled “PIttsburgh?” Which unless I was actually going there would never have assumed that was what she was saying.

How to carry on a conversation with this lady?  What can I do to make her feel not-so-much-a-stranger in a strange land?

pittsburgh1

I pulled out the hexagons and began to stitch.  She got very excited!

I showed her how the pieces were basted over the little card stock templates, and how they were joined together.  She smiled, and chattered on, about what --- I don’t know!  But I could tell she liked what I was doing.

She was over the moon over the clover push button needle threader!  We had a good laugh, both of us pointing at our eyes….at the eye of the needle…and how the needle threader makes it possible to thread a needle even with eyes as old as ours, which is something quite universal.

The flight was short, only an hour…..and she was met with open arms by a man I could only assume was her son.  Much tears and joy in that reunion --- and my heart was full.

You just never know what a hexie intervention can do when language barriers get in the way! 

56 comments:

Grit said...

I love your hexagon work.
Grit from Germany

Beverley said...

That's a lovely story.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

nice way to pass the time - that hexie quilt is just growing and growing!

Nancy-Rose said...

very nice story Bonnie - you'll remember that for a long time!

Ann Sheehan said...

Oh that is so sweet, my eyes filled with tears when I read it. I guess sewing is universal too. Well done to you for trying to communicate. Enjoy your trip and I am so looking forward to seeing you in June in Galway. xx

Elaine M said...

Sound like you made her day. A friendly smile, a laugh, a welcome to a strange land.

Miss Carol said...

Your are so kind and generous :)

Jean said...

You made her flight extra special, even tho you didn't speak the same language. Smiles always work, and she will have an interesting story to share. Our daughter lives in PGH, so I know that airport, and the hilly area.

Prima Donna said...

Bonnie, I'm curious. What kind of "sewing kit" do you carry on a plane? If you run out of stuff to post, that might be a good subject. Of course, you may have posted about it before and I missed it.

Ann Sheehan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SweetAmbrosia said...

Hiw wonderful ... You both made eack other'strip special. When you wonder why on earth weHunteriteslove"OurBonnie",yourstory today explainswhy!!!

Haveasuper specialday,
miling
JulieinTN
IPADstrikes again lol

Debra Graham said...

What a lovely way to help pass the time with a lady who was clearly in some distress. You are an angel.

barblr said...

What a great story Bonnie, and how wonderful for her to be seated next to you. Someone was looking out for her.

OconeeGreene said...

Thank you for sharing this loving and lovely story! Your kindness and friendly approach to this lady in a strange land is what our world needs more of! Safe travels, peace and rest at journey's end!

OconeeGreene said...

Thank you for sharing this loving and lovely story! Your kindness and friendly approach to this lady in a strange land is what our world needs more of! Safe travels, peace and rest at journey's end!

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

You are such a good ambassador Bonnie! In our language of fabric :-)

Millie Penuel said...

Good story -- I was on an overseas flight once and sat with a lady from the Philippines. Her English was very little but we had a fun time discussing how to play suduko! I don't know if she learned much about the game but it passed the time and gave us some communication. I think if I would have had some hand sewing project, we might have done even better. Millie

AddieNCE said...

Such a great story! And yet another proof that quilting helps to get in touch with new people :) - even if there is a language barrier :) Thanks for sharing this with your readers... such stories are delightful and well needed in life everynow and then...

Pat Pearston said...

What a great story Bonnie! Thanks for sharing with us.

HoosierKitty said...

Quilting(handwork) is a universal language.

Colleen said...

Oh that the whole world quilted!!It would be much more "pieceful"

Evelyn Greene said...

Great story. We are all just people aren't we. Your hexies are looking so lovely.

Scrappy/Cindy said...

What an awesome story!

Ann-Maree said...

http://quiltville.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/whats-in-your-carry-on.html

sandra said...

How lovely Bonnie that you took the time to interact with her and hopefully make her feel more welcome in a strange land.

Prima Donna said...

Thank you for the link. Guess I missed it.

amidthismoment said...

That is such a sweet story. Thank you for sharing. I can only imagine her joy at seeing her son. :)

-Bobbi

Ann Mary Wagner said...

What a great story! So kind of you to be so kind, and so happy that lovely lady had someone loving waiting for her at the other end.

Jo C. said...

Wonderful story!

Nonnie said...

I live about 45 minutes from Newark Airport. I would have come to visit you, but would have never gotten into the boarding area to see you. :(

Carol

Sue in Scottsdale, AZ said...

Great story. I remember to a time in 1966 (I was a shy 17 year old at the time) when I was visiting Israel. I was going to Haifa to visit with my cousins whom I had never met. A friend got me on the right bus from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and then I had help getting on the next bus to Haifa. When I reached Haifa I was to call my cousin and she would pick me up a the bus station (thank goodness she spoke English because my Hebrew wasn't very good!). I was standing in front of the bank of pay phones holding the paper with my cousins' phone number and coins in my hand trying to figure out what I needed to make the call - no one had told me. All of a sudden a very nice lady came up to me, took the paper out of my hand, then took some coins and dialed the number. I was ever so thankful. Little gestures mean so much. All I could say was "toda robah" (thank you very much) but I think she understood how much it meant to me. She smiled, waved, and continued on her journey. In no time my cousin showed up and recognized me from the very American suitcase I had with me - it was a small weekender fold up one that folded down flat in my big suitcase and it had tapestry flowers on it. My cousin said she knew it was me because they didn't have suitcases like that in Israel!

Sue in Scottsdale, AZ said...

Great story. I remember to a time in 1966 (I was a shy 17 year old at the time) when I was visiting Israel. I was going to Haifa to visit with my cousins whom I had never met. A friend got me on the right bus from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and then I had help getting on the next bus to Haifa. When I reached Haifa I was to call my cousin and she would pick me up a the bus station (thank goodness she spoke English because my Hebrew wasn't very good!). I was standing in front of the bank of pay phones holding the paper with my cousins' phone number and coins in my hand trying to figure out what I needed to make the call - no one had told me. All of a sudden a very nice lady came up to me, took the paper out of my hand, then took some coins and dialed the number. I was ever so thankful. Little gestures mean so much. All I could say was "toda robah" (thank you very much) but I think she understood how much it meant to me. She smiled, waved, and continued on her journey. In no time my cousin showed up and recognized me from the very American suitcase I had with me - it was a small weekender fold up one that folded down flat in my big suitcase and it had tapestry flowers on it. My cousin said she knew it was me because they didn't have suitcases like that in Israel!

Jane said...

What a great story! The power of sewing/quilting/fabric/creativity!

~~Sew Happy Designs~~ said...

Awww....I just LOVE that story...it's true when you open your heart to be kind to someone it comes back DOUBLEFOLD to you. You made her flight so much more memorable than it would have been. Kudos to you.
Blessings to you, Bonnie Hunter!
Cindy in NY

Potpourri said...

What a wonderful opportunity for that lady to sit with you. I will bet that 3/4 of the other passengers would have ignored the poor old soul the whole trip. I had some Japanese seatmates on my flight from Rome to Frankfurt, there English was almost non-existent, much like my Japanese, but we managed a conversation of sorts.
A smile and a hello will never go amiss!
Too bad everyone didn't carry some sewing to work on and start a dialogue, think about how much more understanding and respect there would be in the world.

45th Parallel Quilter said...

We really DO live in a great world, don't we ;-) Linda

Tami C said...

It's so nice to be able to connect with people and you certainly do that! Thank you for sharing that lovely story with us. You are really coming along on your new hexie now. What a great conversation starter, even if neither of you understood the other's language! Bless you Bonnie!

SewCalGal said...

What a sweet experience Bonnie. I'm sure you made her more comfortable, as she knew you were a quilter with a heart who tried to reach out to her. She was probably very exhausted and stressed from travel, especially to a foreign country. Your warm smile and sharing insights about hexies and the needle threader probably was the highlight of her plane trip. Glad to hear someone was at the airport to pick her up and give her a big hug.

SewCalGal
www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

coolmama said...

Great story. I wonder what that woman is posting on her blog.

Sharon said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that!

Jaynie said...

despite the language barrier, it sounds like you made for an enjoyable flight for an elderly woman, very far from home. Kinda makes you feel all good inside to do something like that. you did good girl! enjoy your trip.

Tilly Titewad said...

Serendipity ~ she needed your pure joy to lift her weary heart. Your giving gave you a gift in return. That's love.

Valerie said...

Sounds like it was not a total accident that you ended up seated next to her--how wonderful the universal energy that knew you would be able to find a common thread, so to speak, to brighten the last hours of what sounds like a very long trip for that lady. Your quilts warm people even when they are not physically wrapped up in them! Wonderful story--thanks for sharing.

andifar said...

I remember a flight many years ago, when the gentleman sitting to me was from a long forgotten European country. We both ordered an adult beverage on the plane. I handed the. flight attendant a 20 and said I will be paying for me and my guest. He was very surprised I would do this and said since he was a guest in my country, it was the least I could do. With the huge English influence in India, she may be very familar with English Paper piecing. The first quilt I saw in Bermuda was a hand pieced Hexi!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Aw, that's a sweet story.

There's something about handwork that really grabs peoples attention, especially if it's some kind of quilting. I used to take my hexies with me when my husband was being treated for cancer at City of Hope. So many people came over to look at them and ask questions, patients and staff alike. I think that the hexies were refreshing, a bright spot of color that took our minds off the graver issues that had brought us there.

C.B.

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Josie McRazie said...

And I would be willing to bet she is telling her family about a very nice young woman who was so kind to her! Quilting...a language of its own!

Cheryl in Friendsville said...

This is a fantastic example of a Random Act of Kindness. How wonderful that you brightened her day.
I really do believe that if quilters ruled the world, it would be a wonderful thing. We'd have world peace and no one would be cold or hungry. How about we start with "Bonnie Hunter for President"?
Okay, I'm kidding - you have enough to do - sharing with all of us in Quiltland and now Goodwill Ambassador to the world!!

Allison in Plano said...

You sweet thang! Texan for being neighborly. I echo everyone's sentiments above. During our vacation travels I've had a group of Japanese women watch me do redwork embroidery; unbeknownst to me. Hubby went to the counter and when he returned he asked me "Did you know someone was watching you?" I turned around and on the other side of the glass enclosure were twelve women smiling at me!! I've secured peoples's address to send them patterns from appliqué I'd been working on. In my early days of cross stitch I had a seat mate that was in the Army and cross stitching Army logos as ornaments for HIS team as Christmas gifts!! I elbowed my husband and introduced him to big burly Andy the cross stitcher. He smiled at him and the r.o.l.l.e.d. his eyes at me and said "DON'T even think about threading up a needle so I can join you two!" Thanks again for sharing all that you do with us Bonnie. You are loved!

Aliceart said...

I'm always amazed at how many people are interested in my stitching. How wonderful that it could make you a comfort to someone else.

JaneB said...

This is a great story. How wonderful that one of the first people she met in America was so friendly and interesting. The crafts we do say so much about us. Thank you for sharing this.

Andee said...

What a touching story...what a good ambassador of our country you are! :)

Jan Ward said...

Oh Bonnie, sounds like you made an elderly lady very happy. I am a nurse in the UK and I love spending time with the elderly. You can communicate with anyone if you put your mind to it. I remember caring for a lady who was only just 65. She sadly had a stroke and spent 6 months in uk and 6 months in south africa. she lost her speech but we got on like a house on fire. I understood her. I don't know how or why, her eyes mainly . I used to look at her eyes and I understood her. Her family wanted me to accompany her on a flight back to south africa but I was heavily pregnant with my son. Her family used to fax pictures drawn by her grand kids, letters etc everyday and I would sit and read them. I will always remember her.

tncottagequilter said...

Heartwarming post, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing that..

Laura said...

sweet! Sewing/Quilting is a universal language that guarantees smiles and joy :)

debby said...

Great story! When I was teaching in Russia, I also discovered that quilting was the universal language.