I always believe “a smile is the best common language among human beings.” This is also my biggest takeaway from Myanmar: language barriers cannot hinder interaction between us, and a smile brings us closer to each other.
Together with the Save the Children team, we drove at 20km/h on bumpy roads and crossed water to reach Muauk Lu Kan Village. On our arrival at the school, the children were already standing in lines and holding flowers to give us the warmest welcome. We started the day by singing and dancing with the children. In the beginning, it was difficult to have timely interactions with them due to language barriers. But the barriers were soon removed by the familiar melodies of children’s songs, and our big smiles and exaggerated onomatopoeia, even though we sang in different languages. We could hear curiosity and amazement in their hearty laughs. Later we guided the children to colour IKEA’s iconic soft toy—BRUMMA bear. Children here only have pencils and coloured pencils. When we took out the felt-tip pens, I saw sparks in their eyes; I could tell how amazing and precious the pens were for them. They removed the caps and coloured the bear very carefully, they were all very focused on their work. After they had finished, they proudly showed us their masterpieces, to share what they painted with us.
Unlike Taiwan, parents here come to take children home for lunch and bring them back to school for the afternoon session. After lunch, we interacted with them by playing ball games together and communicating with body language. In the children’s eyes, maybe we are just passers-by, staying for a very short time, but I still could feel their sincerity and genuineness. For example, after they scored in the ball game, they would look at us happily, hoping to get a thumbs up from us. The excitement and joy in their eyes when they wanted to share something with us also reminded me: we’ve been very used to city life and building tall walls around us for self-protection, but we can break the walls with a simple smile. I’m grateful that smile brought us together. Their innocent smiles are the best souvenirs of my journey in Myanmar.