Lost in Translation

Written by Makenzi Seaton – August 15, 2013

Mackenzi and the other U.S. Youth Ambassadors visiting Recife at a soccer game.

Mackenzi and the other U.S. Youth Ambassadors visiting Recife at a soccer game.

I’ve noticed that the expression “Lost in Translation” can mean a few different things. Among these, it can literally mean “lost”.

Five American Teenagers in Recife, Brazil, does not always equal success in communication. Lets just say that VERY many shop owners and random Brazilians trying to strike up a conversation with us often get blank looks or a very uncertain “Nao fala Portuguese”. But we do our best with a simple smile and a “muito prazer”.

Smiles are universal. We don’t have to be fluent in Portuguese to express our happiness of being in a new place and sharing our love for traveling and discovering different cultures. I’ve also noticed that many Portuguese words or phrases will not always translate to English or mean the same thing.

I think that when we will return to the US, we will experience something similar. We will be bombarded with questions about our trip (and in many of cases, exclamations on how much tan we got), and of course we will try our best to give our experience the justice it deserves, but chances are that most people won’t understand.

But let’s smile anyways. People, family and friends will see the utter happiness this trip has exposed many of us to. Maybe they’ll understand. After all, smiles are universal.