are so many ways to communicate and I experienced a lot of them
while in Moldova.
The newest way to communicate for me is sign language. I really
only knew how to sign "thank you" prior to my visit to Tiraspol.
Then, I found out that it isn't done the same way in Russian.
But even with my limited signing skills, I had a great moment communicating.
Right from the start, I knew I wanted some kids signing "welcome"
in the mural design. It's a two part action so I drew a boy
doing the first part and a girl completing the second.
On the last day of the painting in Tiraspol, Vitroli, one of my
deaf painters, had his "a ha!" moment. And, I was lucky enough
to see it. After four days of painting, he finally realized
that the kids in the mural were signing. He already had such
pride in his work. But, he was out and out thrilled that the
mural included communication that was so vital in his life.
He didn't have to say anything for me to see his joy.
Now, I've always considered Facebook kind of a luxury instead of
a necessity. That's all changed because now I have four Facebook
friends who are deaf. While I painted with these young people,
I basically pointed at colors on my pencil sketch of the mural,
smiled a lot, and signed "thank you" even more than smiling.
But, on Facebook I can actually communicate. I can write whatever
I want in English. They can use Google Translate to understand
what I've written. Then, they can reply in either Russian
or English! I've actually had more conversations with them
this way than I ever could while painting the mural.
This certainly is one of life's surprising ways to communicate.
Sometimes, however, all you need is a warm smile. Most of
my painters in Chisinau were Moldavian youth who spoke English and
had some kind of connection with the U.S. Embassy or the American
Center. Communication was so much easier on this second mural.
But, not all youth I encountered were so fortunate. Our mural
was at a school for children with special needs. School vacation
was in session so most students were not at school. A few
were present and one of my favorites was a tiny little boy with
a giant amount of personality and confidence. He came up to
my interpreter on the first day, so excited! "Are you the
artist working on this mural? You're amazing!" and then he
thrust out his arm to shake Octavian's hand. I wanted to cry
out, "But, wait a minute! It's my design. Shake my hand
too!" It didn't happen. He wouldn't have understood
my English anyway.
But, I got my turn the following day.
As I washed paint brushes at a sink, the little guy came up to me.
I didn't understand a word he said, but I knew exactly what he asked
about. And, when I said, "Da", his arm thrust out in my direction.
I don't think I was ever so pleased to shake someone's hand.
Another young man, Nico, graduated from the school. When he
passed by our project, he wanted to participate. So, I spent
an hour of one-on-one time with Nico. All I could say to him
was, "Da, da, da" (Yes, yes, yes) but that with a smile was all
he needed. He was so genuinely thrilled to be a part of the
project. I didn't need to understand Romanian to see that.
And when he hugged me, I figured I read that situation correctly.
Of course, there are other ways to communicate. And, on this
trip to Moldova, I had another first. I was interviewed
on live morning television. Now, if you believe the beautiful
newscaster who came for the interview, it was with the most popular
morning television show in the country. Who am I to doubt
No. 2 with ProTV
spoke about how the murals started and what brought me to Moldova.
But, it all happened so fast. And, it was over before I knew
it. I really wasn't done sharing, but I guess I was finished
anyway. There was one more thing I really wanted to share.
While painting my last mural in Columbus, Ohio, there was a three
car accident in front of the mural. I thought it would be a great
closing line for the segment to tell the audience to enjoy the mural
but drive safely. It didn't happen. Well, it didn't
happen on this broadcast.
Now, another day of painting exposed me to a form of communication
that I just haven't gotten into. Selfies. I don't see
the need. I don't have a smart phone. And, I already
know what I look like. But, one of the embassy people who
works communications posted a selfie on Facebook while painting.
Shortly after that, she was contacted by another television station
who wanted to come over for an
interview. I don't believe in selfies. But, even
I have to admit that a selfie bringing a news crew on location gives
fairly good bragging rights for quite a while. "I posted a
selfie that brought out a news crew. What did you do today?"
Who can top that on Facebook? So Moldova tied Albania with
two television newscasts about my murals.
By the way, I did mention the line about the accident and safe driving
during my second interview. Yep, but it was cut in the editing
process. I tried again in my third
television interview. Yes, you read that right, three
interviews. Another news crew shortened our lunch break when
they showed up unexpectedly. I was certainly much bigger
news in Moldova than ever in Ohio.
There is one final form of communication that I want to mention.
Newspapers. I still like to hold paper in my hands.
As far as I know, there are no plans for a newspaper article on
my projects, although there should be! But, I doubt anyone
will ever break the record set in Mexico. The story about
me and my murals was a full page spread. Nope, I just don't
see that happening again.
2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.