Only A Smile To Communicate 

Have you ever wondered how much a smile means? Or how it can affect someone's life? A smile across any culture and language can bring people together.

Meet Pa Cho. This sweet little girl is a prime example of how little one needs to be happy. The second we got to the village after a long day of hiking, I noticed her running towards us looking to play. A bit shy at first, but once broken out of her shell, all we saw was laughter and smilies come out of her body. I have never met a child that has been so excited to meet people who are so different than her. Pa Cho and I were able to communicate, even though we didn't speak the same language. We could understand each other through all that mattered: laughter and smiles.

I met her at our first homestay in her village, Patam, during our four-day trekking journey. Patam Village is the definition of poverty, in my books. The only way to get there was by motorbike or foot, meaning the closest "city-area" was over a few long windey miles on a dirt road or a jungle away. My trekking group of 8 all slept in one huge bed, while our homestay family and trekking guide slept on the floor beneath us. Our bathroom was anywhere we found privacy, and our shower was a stream. Breakfast, being made from scratch, woke us up at 5:30 A.M. Along with the sounds of crying babies, squealing pigs, mooing cows and chickens that sounded like alarm clocks. This was the start to the village everyday.

I didn't realize we were staying in poverty until we left the village because everyone there was so genuinely happy. All despite their circumstance in poverty with little access to education, healthcare, and a simple grocery store. Things that come so simple to us in America. This little girl hasn't experienced and probably won't experience nearly as much as I have so far in my 18 years, yet radiates joy as much and if not more than me.

Although Pa Cho might never know, she has changed my worldview. I now have a better understanding that things don't come as easily to people as it does for me. I am coming home more aware of what poverty truly is. Pa Cho and I may be different, but pure joy and a simple smile connected us. These common connections can build bridges between all humans, despite distances in land, culture and language. The real discovery in my journey was not only in seeing new lands, but seeing with new eyes.


  1. Don and Carroll Benjamin   •  

    Kate, what a beautiful heart warming story. You are having a wonderful eye-opening experience that everyone should have sometime in their lifetime. Love, Don and Carroll Benjamin

  2. hugh cree   •  

    Lovely! Hugh, Alex’s grandpa.

  3. hugh cree   •  

    Lovely, love to see more.

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Author Kate Mulder Posted