By Sally Johnson
As I approached the Panwar household for lunch on a beautiful Monday afternoon, I had only seconds to admire the incredible scenery. A young Akhil came running at me with the beautiful giggle of his. As he drew near, I crouched down and opened my arms to him. He comes in fast and I scooped him up, tossing him in the air and exposing him to the breathtaking views that his small size prevents him from seeing otherwise. His giggling transforms into a full-blown, highly infectious laugh that quickly spreads to me. I gently brought him back to the ground, where he went back to playing cricket with his buddies.
As I made my way to the front porch, I saw Ansika, Rajendra’s two year old daughter, with the sweetest smile imaginable and beautiful brown eyes. She was watching Akhil and his companions as they continued their cricket game. As I approached, Ansika looked up and upon recognizing me scooted over to make room for another person. She then looked up at me, down at the spot and gently patted it with her small hands, indicating that I should sit there. As I took the seat, Ansika smiled and the most precious giggle escaped from her. I sat down and put my arm around her. She laid her head on my shoulder as we continued to watch the cricket game.
These actions may seem common and insignificant to some, but they meant the world to me. Only one day prior, Akhil and Ansika were complete strangers to me and vice-versa. They were extremely bashful and didn’t really interact at all with us. In a matter of one day and without mutual verbal communication, I already felt as if I had known them my whole life.
Throughout my stay in Agora I have found that communication is much more than talking. Simply by observing facial expression, body language and sounds, it is somewhat apparent what someone is thinking, feeling or otherwise trying to communicate. It was unbelievable to feel the relationships created in the village without the use of clear, direct and mutual language. I’ve built stronger relationships with these people in a mere three days than with people I see everyday. I can even communicate 10 times better with them.
Communication without words is in a sense far more special than a typical conversation – one of my favorite feelings is to see a smile spread across someone’s face and to know that I helped make it happen. Actions speak louder than words – that is a theme I will always carry with me from this experience.
I will never forget the incredible people in Agora and the relationships I have with so many of them.