Hearts Can Speak Without Words

The power of children to connect us all

Ashley Peterson
Aug 22, 2019 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Image by Linus Schütz from Pixabay

Children truly have the power to bring the world closer together and connect hearts regardless of language, culture, or location.

As a female who typically travels solo, it’s often not easy to tell who can be trusted. While some people offering assistance are being helpful and lovely, others have some less than desirable intentions.

I’m Canadian, and my sense is that for the most part if you try to get too involved with random North American kids, especially if you get touchy feely with them, the parents will think you fall somewhere on a spectrum between weird and creepy.

In a lot of countries, though, if you take an interest in people’s kids, you become an honorary family member. This has allowed me to make some amazing connections.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by author

These first two photos are taken in a little popsicle stand of a village in Kazakhstan not far from the Uzbekistan border. I wound up here essentially by accident, and had most of the day to kill before my bus ride onwards.

There was a local family sitting on the next bench over from where I was, and they also ended up being there for most of the day. The kids took an interest in me pretty quickly, and I was soon utterly infatuated with them.

The parents were happy as clams that I was tending to the kids all day. None of them spoke a word of English and I didn’t speak a word of Kazakh, but we had a grand old time. The two boys were enthralled by my backpack, while the girl was fascinated by my guidebook.

For that day, we were family. It turned out to be one of my best days of the trip.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by author

The above picture is taken in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, where I was waiting to take a ferry over to Egypt. I was having fun making faces at the kids while a couple of ladies (mother and auntie?) wearing niqabs sat nearby watching over them. When I got out my camera, the girl turned shy and started to walk back towards her mom. Mom got up and shooed the little girl back towards me so she could have her picture taken, and then cheered the kids on as I was positioning us to snap the picture.

Not exactly the scary niqab-wearing Muslim women some governments act so frightened of — just a lovely human being who appreciated that some random white chick was taking an interest in her kids.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by author

This lovely little lady in the picture above became my friend on a train journey from Mumbai to Goa in India. Her dad spoke a bit of English, but she didn’t, and she was quite insistent that he play translator for her. I don’t think that was necessarily his preferred way to spend the morning, but on the other hand both parents seemed quite thrilled that I was giving her attention.

I don’t have an accompanying photo for this story, but I was in the Vietnamese city of Hue waiting to catch a train to Ho Chi Minh City. I started playing with a cute little boy, and his family was just over the moon with this. The little one started to get either bored or tired, but the family were having none of that; they wanted him to keep playing with me. When my departure time arrived and I wasn’t certain which train and which car to get on, they got me sorted. Through all of this, we didn’t understand a word each other was saying.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But in my experience, the best way to connect a whole bunch of hearts in a whole bunch of different places is through the kids.

Maybe there would be a lot less anger in the world if we could see things the way kids do and focus on how similar we are rather than how different we might think we are. We’re all far more the same than we are different, and connecting through kids makes it easier to see that.

Imagine that, a world where our sameness was the most important thing.

Image for post
Image for post

Warm Hearts

Inspiring us to be kinder. One story at a time.

Ashley Peterson

Written by

Mental health blogger | MH Nurse | Living with depression | Author of 3 books, latest is Managing the Depression Puzzle | mentalhealthathome.org

Warm Hearts

Sharing pieces of kindness and compassion, aiming to inspire a kinder, better world. One poem, one story at a time.

Ashley Peterson

Written by

Mental health blogger | MH Nurse | Living with depression | Author of 3 books, latest is Managing the Depression Puzzle | mentalhealthathome.org

Warm Hearts

Sharing pieces of kindness and compassion, aiming to inspire a kinder, better world. One poem, one story at a time.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store