Patricia Patrick talks about how we better understand others when we learn to speak their language
Written by
Esther Insigne
Patricia Patrick speaks to students at devotional on June 18, 2019.
Image By
Chad Hsieh

Languages learned through school and the mission field bring us closer to being a peacemaker, as what David O. McKay envisioned students to become, said Dr. Patricia Patrick, an associate professor of English. Patrick addressed BYU–Hawaii students and faculty on June 18 in the Cannon Activities Center.

“[Language] allows us to see more fully into the hearts and the minds of the people who speak them, to appreciate the way they construct the world to understand the things that don't translate,” Patrick explained.

She compared this to giving and knowing names, saying, “Perhaps God brought all creation to the first humans for names because He meant for us to know them individually. Naming the animals, the plants and the minerals of the world can be an alert, nurturing and loving way of seeing differently.

“Through knowing the names of God’s creations around us, it sharpens our focus and perception that we may even say the ‘dirt is amazing,’” Patrick remarked.

She said when people talk about Hawaii, they see a “general hazy green mental picture,” however if we looked at things more closely, we would notice the flowers and plants on the beach and the sounds and scents during our morning walks.

“As we change our vision to look both closer and wider, we recreate a richer world full of individuals worth getting to know,” Patrick said.

Kristi Aurich, a junior from Arizona studying TESOL education, said she appreciated being reminded “learning a language can open our minds to new perspectives.” She also said she liked the descriptions Patrick shared of many Hawaiian words for the different kinds of rain during her talk.

Patrick encouraged students to keep practicing, whether it be for piano or the languages they are studying. She said she is getting back to reading Greek through the scriptures, and though it’s going slow, Patrick said it allows her to think about specific points she would have skimmed over due to her familiarity with the scriptures.

Metanoia was one of the Greek words she shared, and according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it means “a transformative change of heart.” Patrick related it to repentance as it involved “engaging in a deep transformation that begins with changing our perspective with seeing differently.”

However, forgiveness and repentance are not as opposite as we think they are, Patrick shared. She said, “When we discard our preconceptions, we're able to more fully, and more justly appreciate the reality of another human being.”

Patrick shared a quote by C.S. Lewis, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature, which if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”

When we are discouraged and going through tough times, there are guardian angels around us who will help us get through those challenges and feel comforted, Patrick said. She shared a particular experience where she was feeling down in her office, and how she felt a reassuring hand on her shoulder moments later.

“That surprise shook me out of my bleak mood. I was reminded at that moment there was so much to reality than I could see. In my focus on my immediate trials, I forgot that there is an eternal perspective [and] I've got cheerleaders out there.

“Even though we have trials, the Lord, His angels and our loved ones are near to us and are concerned. We can take strength and renewal in opening our spiritual senses to that world. Remember we are known, loved and cared for,” Patrick emphasized.

David Aldrich, a senior from Georgia studying peacebuilding, said he liked the topic for the devotional because it reminded him our trials and hard times were “moments where we could have spiritual recreation and have a time of peace and comfort in these days.”

Date Published
June 24, 2019
Last Edited
June 24, 2019