Just yesterday afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of being stuck in O'Hare airport for 4 hours. The east coast thunderstorms delayed flights across the country, so although the weather was perfect in the Windy City, we were kept on the ground.
I sat at my gate, thinking at first that we'd be leaving on time. I journaled, then pulled out "Out of the Silent Planet", which I had started on the flight to Chicago. As I read, they made the dreaded announcement: "We're stuck on the ground for a while, folks. We'll keep you updated."
Commence the people-watching.
The family which most attracted my attention say directly across from me. The primary reason I noticed them was that their two young sons-probably between 6 and 10 years old- were wearing blue-and-white fleece one-piece outfits. The mother asked me to clarify the announcement; they were clearly European. I mentally went through a list of possible nationalities. French? No. Italian? No. British, German, Austrian? Nope.
Another young boy looked to his right and observed the European father playing a game on his iPad with his sons.
"Hey! I know that game! I have it here!"
The sons, confused, looked at their father who presumably translated.
"Do you speak English?"
"I do, they speak a little but not much."
"Oh. What do you speak?"
This time the son answered. "Norway."
[No wonder I didn't recognize it.]
Language seemed no barrier as the three boys shared two iPads; pointing, and sometimes speaking in their own languages, they seemed to get the messages across. They shared little tips on how to pass this or that level, how to collect diamonds, how to move on.
"Are you Christian?"
"Well in Norway, most of us are Lutheran", said the father, after a moment
"Oh. I'm Christian."
I, along with those around me, couldn't help but smile at their interactions. Even their parents, ever-watchful, seemed to love this exchange of friendship.
I hope those boys never forget that language is not a boundary. That something as simple as minecraft can bring cultures together and eliminate confusion. That a smile is just a small hello, and that the most meaningful interactions can begin with three small boys who don't know what the other says.