by Nicole Ray, a member of the SkillCorps® Czech Republic October 2018 team

Language barriers in America are viewed as a way of dividing people. When you do not speak the same language as the people in your environment, it is easy to separate yourself from those around you.

I grew up in California where there is very little exposure to Czech and Russian, and therefore coming to Prague, I did not have any basic phrases to help communicate with the staff at the center where I would be working for the next two weeks. Communication is so key to our daily lives that finding yourself in a place where you can’t talk to the person you are working with is very difficult.

Working with the staff at ABA Centrum, where two out of four of the staff members do not speak English, it has actually helped us to work as a team. There were four of us sitting on the floor, in a circle, typing ferociously away on our phones. We weren’t scrolling Facebook or Instagram or texting our respective friends, but using Google translate to communicate with each other.

Through our language barriers we have to work harder to understand each other; you have be creative with how you are explaining things to each other because not everything translates very well through Google. Technology has made it possible to communicate with others even when you find yourself in a place where you do not speak the language.