hangyoon-cho-story.jpgLanguage often makes a fence between people. Because language includes culture, religions, and perspectives, it often makes conflicts, violence, and discrimination. To share love and to make a bridge beyond language may be a way to solve the problems.

As an international student, I always feel the language fence, and it brings up latent fears—fears of misunderstanding and cultural gaps—in me. I thought being fluent in a language was needed to share love, because it is a kind of communication-based act, and I have to speak the language well to communicate. My Con Ed I experience at Campbell-Stone Apartments gave me the opportunity to overcome the fears and change my mind.

Campbell-Stone is a place for the elderly, including those who are retired. It is a community of cultural diversity. If you visit here, you can see the bulletin board posts in at least four languages. At Campbell-Stone, one of the chaplain intern’s works is regarding spirituality. Before the pandemic, for this purpose, chaplain interns participated in worship services, planned programs, and visited residents to talk and pray for them. However, since the pandemic has begun, the ministry was totally changed, and interns’ work has been limited.

I could not imagine how I would work as the chaplain intern without meeting and visiting the residents when I came to Campbell-Stone for the first time. I gave myself one question: How do I make a space for us to communicate with each other? My abstract answer was making a bridge.

I have tried to make connections in this non-contact time in various ways. One of them was an event to deliver cards. I brought seasonal cards for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Lunar New Year, and Easter, and gave them to residents to greet and pass blessings to each other with instructions and an introduction of the seasons. I made Spanish, Russian, and Korean versions by using Google Translate.

hangyoon-cho-story3.pngI had worries: “Can it work?” “What result will be expected?” But soon I realized that my worries came from my outcome-driven mindset. My site supervisor, Rev. Betty Brewer-Calvert, told me a Bible verse: “I planted the seed. Apollos watered it. But God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthian 3:6). I could begin the event with the verse.

Soon, I could see slight changes. A few people used the card to greet and celebrate other residents’ birthdays, and visited the intern office and said thank you to me; someone felt love through the event; someone gave me a short poem and snack in return. I know, it is a small thing, but those slight changes changed my mind regarding language and sharing love. Language does not matter to share love, but mindset does. I believe that even though it is a small bridge, residents will communicate and share love through the bridge.

To share love is not that difficult. It begins from a small move and a short greeting. Anyone can participate in these small movements.