The journey begins…

NEW YORK — After a two-hour drive and then an hour-long wait to get through JFK airport security, I was finally able to sit down in the terminal and sip on one last Starbucks coffee before boarding the plane to Port-Au-Prince.

I scanned the area to see who else would be on my flight and smiled as Haitian Creole conversations began to fill the terminal – proud of myself for remembering important terms like “sak pase?” (what’s up?) and “dlo” (water).

A little girl, about 10 years old, saw me scanning the room and gave me an ear-to-ear grin, reminding me that a smile is part of our universal language. She continued her conversation with her family, then looked back at me and smiled again, then back to her family, then back to me. This went on for awhile.

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