A slip of paper comes sliding across the cutting table to me. It said “name”. I looked up and saw an artisan looking at me expectantly. I wrote “Marisa” and slid it back. She smiled. I looked at her and pointed to “name” and then at her. I slid the paper back to her. She wrote Adeline. I smiled. Then pointed to the artisan cutting my leather strands and the word “name”. She wrote Jasmine. Jasmine looked up and smiled. Adeline then took the paper and folded it and put it in her bag to save. I gathered my strands of leather and tied them together and started braiding. I felt a tap on my shoulder and there was another artisan motioning for me to give her the end. She held the end and I was able to braid faster. Jasmine then gave me another 3 strands of the buttery yellow leather. I looked up and beckoned for another artisan, who was watching me, to braid. I gave her the 3 strands and she grabbed a friend and started braiding. I got called away to check on a prototype. When I came back, all my cords were braided and laid out nicely for me.
I have so enjoyed working with the deaf artisans here at Three Cords. They are such hard workers and want to learn. What I have experienced in my travels around the world is that people are people; we are all the same. We have feelings, dreams for our children, and the need to connect with one another. Though there are language barriers, it doesn’t stop us from trying to communicate. As I spent the day with our artisans cutting leather strips for the braided tote, I had to smile. It didn’t matter that I didn’t speak Creole or couldn’t sign, it just didn’t matter. We connected and at the end of the day it’s all that mattered.