My name is Colton Chacalias and I spent a portion of my summer in Belgrade, Serbia. My girlfriend and I attended an Ethnographic Sensibility Field School to study, and experience, Serbian culture. 6 weeks was enough to make it feel like my second home.
We lived with a host family, and quickly transformed from guests into members of the family. Our daily conversations at the dinner table opened our eyes to the reasons behind the cultural differences we noticed everyday.
What made the trip particularly valuable for me, was our host father Aleksandar. We grew to become extremely close, yet we didn’t share a common language. At first, communicating took some work. Body language was our primary mode, and it was amazing to see us start mirroring each other’s gestures. I bought us both small language reference dictionaries after a week. These dictionaries, body language, tone of voice, and drawing made up most of our daily interactions. It was amazing that we could have a ‘conversation’ about anything from vegetables, and household objects, to music theory, and politics.
I made a short film about my communication with Aleksandar for a Gallery we held at the end of the field school. Since Aleksandar is a Clarinet Professor, he helped me choose and mix the music for the film. I invite you to watch it and experience communication without a common language.