Tag Archives: conversations

Dialogues

By Marten Sealy (Bishop’s)

dialoguesI would like to take this opportunity to share examples of some situations and conversations that I’ve experienced here. I’ve had both of these conversations with several people on different occasions, and the exact replies are varied, so they’ve been left out.

I will be glad if this post helps to ‘personify’ some of the portraits found in each issue of National Geographic.

CONVERSATION #1

Myself: I’m sorry, I’m not handing out anything material, nor can I promise you any grand solutions.

Friend: *Disappointment, occasionally mixed with confusion, as if to say, “but you’re from Canada.”*

Myself: You see, I could hand out 100 dollars right now, and I’d be fine, but I’d never see that money again. I know that it would be received gratefully, and it could help feed or clothe many people today, but it would do nothing for future generations. It’s tempting, but I have other plans for that money. If I invest that money in Canada, in my education, then someday I may be in the position where I can really help the people of this country.

This brings understanding, but I have to be careful not to make specific promises. It’s definitely one of the most difficult things to communicate.

 

 

CONVERSATION #2

Friend: *questions about Canada*

Myself: *honest (and modest) answers*

Friend: Canada is a blessed country

Myself: Hmm…I’m fortunate to have been born in Canada, yes, but a blessed country? That depends who you ask. Do you know the history of Europeans coming to Malawi/Africa?

Friend: Yes, they came from the UK, Portugal, France, etc. Wealthy white people.

Myself: Well, if millions of those Europeans had decided to move to Africa, bringing their families in such great numbers that they crowded the black people off of their original land, would you call Africa blessed?

Friend: Ah, you’re from Canada, but you’re not proud of that?

Myself: That’s a hard question to answer my friend. I live a comfortable life, but wealth isn’t everything. Everyone should be proud of their roots.

Friend: That is true. Thank you. [occasionally: I’m proud to be Malawian]

This often concludes with a head nod and a moment of silence.

 

Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

By Megan Blair (Bishop’s)

Early morning in the common room

Early morning in the common room

It’s 7:00 am. I have been up for an hour and a half now already, unable to sleep. Even though I would rather be curled up in my sleeping bag right now, it’s nice to have the common room to myself. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the peacefulness and tranquillity of an empty space. Waiting for internet to miraculously work, I decided to read some of my peers’ blogs. Reading through the blog posts, I found myself tearing up and to be quite honest, I’m not sure as to why that is. I’m not sad, I am not missing home, yet something about reading through everyone’s posts sparked some emotion.

It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to read through someone’s personal writings and see how they perceive certain things as well as how certain events have shaped them. Even the smallest event that would seem like nothing to someone can spark something big within someone else. Something that seems so unimportant, something so minor, something so insignificant can have such a major impact on another individual.

When I was finished reading the blogs ,there was this one in particular that stuck with me. It was about a moment of silence between a Praxis Malawi member and a Malawian. This moment of silence was brought on by a question asked. As the Praxis Malawi group member waited for a response, he was struggling to hold back from asking more questions, trying to get a response. After some time, the Malawian had collected his thoughts and gave a well thought out response.

I must say I have definitely felt this way on a number of occasions here in Malawi. But why is that so? Why do we feel the need to fill these silences? I sat on this question for a few minutes and came to the following conclusion: we live such busy and fast-paced lives; constantly surrounded by noise. As a result of this, we have a tendency to feel the need to fill silence. We have difficulties walking alongside someone without speaking. We are unable to remain in the presence of another individual without sharing a few words, even when we have nothing to say.

Being in Malawi has taught me to listen to silence and appreciate it. What we don’t realize is that words don’t have to be shared in order to feel, hear, and understand something or someone. Sometimes the greatest conversations are had through silence and if you listen carefully, you’ll realize that silence can sometimes speak louder than words.