Cadelbosco is a village in Reggio Emilia, Italy. My first visit here was three years ago. A friend of mine I had met at the European Taizé meeting in Rotterdam for new year’s eve 2010 invited me and a couple of other people to meet him at a Taizé meeting in Cadelbosco the following summer. He organized everything – prayers, touristic trips and host families for all of us. Latter is what I love most about Cadelbosco.
Annagret, Gianni and their daughter Chiara treated me like a family member right from the start. Since Annagret has swiss parents, she speaks German which made my first stay in Italy a lot easier. Gianni and Chiara only speak little English but we use our hands, feet and surrounding to communicate – it works out quite well. Since Chiara has had more English lessons and I started to learn Italian a few months ago we started to talk bilingual.
Talking about language: last evening was a great example of how eight people can talk in five languages at the same time while still understanding each other quite well. Wondering how this works? Let me start three years ago…
As I mentioned before, our group gathered for the first time as a result of the great encounters we have had at Rotterdam. Mauro (Italian) invited several people and we finally met with three Polish, one Columbian and one German girl as his church community’s guest. Two of the Polish girls (Anna and Joanna) and I remained faithfull to Cadelbosco and kept visiting the following years as well. As time has passed our little Taizé group has developed its very own way of communication.
Since we all have a different life story, we ovisously speak different languagesb. English is the only one we all have in common. Apart from that we speak and/or understand German, Polish, Italian and Spanish. Yes, some of us do understand a language but have trouble speaking it. I, for example, just started to learn Italian but have had Latin and French at school so I am capable of getting what the Italians are talking about but I only stutter a few sentences (Mi chiama Laura. Ho venti anni. Io sono dalla Germania. Io studio della letteratura e della cultura. Parlo solo un po ‘di italiano. Un gelato per favore. Mi piace.) Well, I DO know some more Italian – but it always takes some time to recollect what I have learned a while ago so I tend to take the easy way of speaking English (I know I shouldn’t, but well…)
Anna speaks Spanish fluently because she has studied in Spain. Since Italian sounds similar she understands it quite well but has never learned how to speak it. It works the other way round as well. Luca has a Polish mum and therefor speaks and understands Polish. He talks to Anna and Joanna in Polish quite a lot and helps Mauro to learn Polish as well because the Italian guy will move to Poznan in Poland next June to live there with his Polish girlfriend he met in Milan. Love doesn’t know country borders, I guess. I could go on like this for hours but the map I drew should be self-explanatory.
The point I want to make is that you do not need to know a language perfectly in order to get along and to have a good time together. When we cooked dinner last evening (oh yeah, I AM IN CADELBOSCO RIGHT NOW for an extended weekend) we named every item we used in five languages. Pronunciation is a funny thing… have you ever heard an Italian try to say “Pfefferminzkuchen” or a German read out Italian recipes she has never heard of before? Try it and you’ll burst out laughing.