My introduction to the refugees of Burma in San Diego has been much slower than I originally thought, but this hasn’t been a bad aspect of the process. Yes, it has been very difficult to go into situations when the language barrier is beyond charades and yet it has been helpful too because the families I have met so far get to a point where they go back to their daily lives, ignoring the camera for those precious instances when real, genuine moments happen.
The second hardest part of this is trying to find the story within the language barrier or lack of story. I am in need of a younger refugee that knows Karen, Chin, Burmese, and/or Thai – the main languages that I have found most of these refugees know – that I can work with on a constant basis. Just this alone would help tremendously and they would have a definite paid job.
But what I do know so far is spirits have been joyful even when work has been scarce for the refugees I’ve met.