The Power of a Smile

Every morning, I walk the same steps through the neighborhood of Sutiava. I take the fruits that my host-mother so graciously preserved for me from the kitchen table. I unlock the gates of my house, and I make a right towards the sign that says “Flor de Caña.” I walk to the end of the block, stepping over horse droppings, and trying not to trip on the rocks. I turn the corner and walk down the street, listening to music flowing from the houses, waving goodbye to the children too little to attend school. I walk past the middle-aged woman, who sits at the side of the street holding her weaved basket on her head filled with fruit and bread. I walk past the school where I work, and listen to the excited children greeting me through the bars of their school windows. At the corner of the school sits a little old woman, with a rich brown complexion and gray hair. When she sees me her smile is so bright and the creases at the corner of her eyes shows true kindness in her soul. She sits behind the table, and always makes an effort to greet me, as I do to her.
It’s so bizarre to me that I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but already I feel a close tie to this community. It seems as if ever since this older woman welcomed me into her world with her bright smiles and conversation, everyone else began to as well. It feels great to see the same smiling faces every morning, and to care about how their day is going and how they’re handling the heat. I am so appreciative of this warm community because every morning when I walk the same pathway, I am reminded that strangers are only foreign for but so long, and that one smile can break down the boundaries of indifferent feelings.

Tiarra Riggins ’17