Friends without Borders

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In 2010, I hosted an exchange student from Basque Country (Northern Spain). We hit it off so much that, after he left, I immediately went to visit him in his country. These trips back and forth to Spain (and to the USA for him) lasted for 3 years. Each time we stayed for about a month in each other’s home.

The first year was different from all the others because it was the first time I traveled alone internationally. The village I lived in was small, and everyone was connected. Each person came from a different background but during the summer, when everyone moved out to their summer homes, they came together.

This photo is of my friend Jennifer and I when we first met. Jagoba (who I was living with) brought me up one night to meet his best friend. We climbed onto the side of a mountain where a church stood and found her waiting for us. I handed my camera to Jagoba and told him to take a picture of us, even though we hadn’t really introduced ourselves yet. I ran over to her and gave her a huge hug!

That was the catalyst for a great friendship while I was traveling.

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Three years later (2012), we took this photo on the other side of the mountain. We had partied together, traveled together, and had many interesting conversations. Who knew that from a running hug, our friendship would start.

The interesting things is that Jennifer doesn’t really speak English… and I really, really, don’t speak Spanish. All of our communication was done in our own languages. She would speak to me in Spanish, and I would reply in English. I understood enough Spanish to pick up what she was talking about, and she knew enough English to reply to me.

You would think that this would severely limit our communication, but it didn’t. We had philosophical conversations about life and the music we loved. It got to the point that my friend Jagoba got upset.

One day he told me that he doesn’t understand how we have conversations. He spent 6 years learning English and yet, Jennifer and my communication was great! He said that he knew both English and Spanish, so he understood what each of us was saying. Jagoba wasn’t angry, he was just astonished at our ability to talk to each other.

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These years that I have lived in Basque Country have shown me that everyone is human. We have different paths and will pursue different goals in life, but despite all of this, we’re able to relate to one another. Jennifer and I met 4 years ago, in mountainous Spain, where there’s good food, loud parties, and always time to go to the beach. We live very different lives but yet we’re good friends.

Looking back, this is why I’m hopeful about the future. Jennifer and I are two people who come from very different backgrounds. We don’t even share a common language but yet we’re able to live peacefully. It doesn’t matter the what our nations or society think, we are able to coexist. I hope everyone has the opportunity to meet someone like this in their lifetime. 🙂 Have a wonderful day everybody!

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