The Silk Walk team had taken a few classes of Chinese from Love Panda star teacher, Gillian. Despite the difficulties fitting in classes through their walking journey and patchy internet, the Silk Walk team has really enjoyed the classes.
Patrick said that he and Paul have been enjoying the new vocabularies and using it to converse with people which has been so rewarding. Love Panda made their journey more enjoyable by providing them with the knowledge of Chinese language.
Below, Patrick has wrote a blog for Love Panda on how understanding the Chinese language has helped them in connecting with people during their journey. If you want to know more about the Silkwalk journey, please check them out at www.silkwalkexpedition.com
Understanding is How We Connect
As we walk through China, being able to communicate—even at a basic level—has been an integral part of how we experience our time here. Paul, Timb, and myself (Pat) are currently walking the Silk Road from Xi’an, China to Istanbul, Turkey with a mission to weave together stories of people, places, and purpose from along this ancient route.
Paul and I have a beginner understanding of Mandarin while Timb is limited to phone translations. Being able to speak with locals in their own language, Timb mentioned, has a clear difference in the mood of the conversation. He noticed a lot of locals seem apprehensive about the approaching foreigners, but rapidly change their disposition when we start speaking Mandarin and they realize the interaction won’t be awkwardly difficult. In fact, they often mention to Paul and I that we speak very well, but I think this is more of an appreciation that we speak their language at all.
Likewise, the places we visit are often a mystery to some degree unless we have a person telling us about why it is meaningful to them and others. This allows us to share the meaningfulness of these places. It’s the difference between another temple and a story explaining a long history with fundamental parts of the culture that illustrates the power and intimacy of the relationship people have with the deity or saint related to the temple.
Purpose, on the other hand, is a difficult concept to pin down in comparison to people and places. For us, this walk represents a variety of personal goals while the group mission is constantly redefining how we make genuine connections and how we tell these stories. As we continue walking and meeting people who share with us their connection to their place and slowly reveal a bit of their purpose, there is no doubt that being able to communicate is the single most important thing allowing us to gain an understanding.