You’re in Mexico, building a house. The family is there and you so badly want to engage with them, but you don’t speak the language or simply don’t know how to start. Here are a few tips for how to get to know the family you are working with.
Start with the kids
If the family has kids, you are golden. Children tend to be very open and love to chat and play. If they are small, they are pretty much guaranteed to jump on your back as soon as you say the word, “caballito,” (pronounced kah-bah-yee-toe) or just motion that you want to give them a “piggy-back” ride. If they are older, a soccer ball is helpful. All you have to do is get one kid to become comfortable with you and pretty soon you will have a whole crew ready to play.
Ask for help
Often times the family wants to be involved, but they don’t know what to do. Just asking for help can be the best way to get them to join in. You can ask for help carrying something or even just ask if they will sit on a piece of wood while you saw. All you have to do is look at them and say, “ayudame por favor,” which means, “Help, please”.
How do you say?
You can always ask how to say something in Spanish. This is a great one to use if you would like to learn the Spanish words for the tools or building materials. Just hold up or point to something and say, “Como se dice?” That simple question can help break the ice.
It sounds simple because it is. If you look friendly and approachable, the family will think that you are. They will feel more comfortable and be more excited to get to know you. Tell them your name and ask theirs.
As you are working, remember that a house is changing this family’s life. You can show themlove with the way you interact with them. And if you are constantly trying to show love, they will be able to see it and will be changed through it. You might find yourself changed as well!
If you want to prepare for your trip, check out this website that can give you some common Spanish phrases:http://www.learnspanishtoday.com/learning_module/grammar.htm