A main focus of ours right now in Malaybaylay is to learn how to speak Cebuano. By the end of every tutor session my brain is ready to explode. I pack my things up and walk out of the cafe not wanting to say another word for the rest of the day. I don’t want to have to think anymore.
Some days I leave discouraged or annoyed that it’s such a long process. It feels like it’s going to take years before I can just sit and have a normal conversation in Cebuano.
But Saturday night it all fell together for me.
I got to spend the day in Cagayan and then walk around the town at night. I got to see what life is like in the middle of the city on a weekend. I got to experience the nightlife activities.
But most importantly I got to see why I’m studying the language so intently right now.
I met a little boy. I can’t tell you his name. I can’t tell you how old he is. I can’t tell you where he lives or who he lives with.
All I know about him is he pretended to be a lion as we played together. The only words exchanged between us were roar. And maybe a few grunts thrown in there every now and then.
I couldn’t figure anything out about him because I don’t speak Cebuano and he doesn’t speak English. And for me that was super frustrating. I wanted to know him. I wanted to be his friend. I wanted to do more than act like a lion with him.
Saturday night that wasn’t possible. And next Saturday night that probably still won’t be possible.
But as I waved goodbye and walked away I knew that every time I walk into the cafe for tutoring lessons that little boy will be in my mind and it’s going to make me work just a little harder to learn the language. And rest a little easier knowing the importance of what I’m doing in the right here and right now.