Breaking Language Barriers at Lost River Cave

Walk into the Gift Shop at Lost River Cave on any Saturday during June, July or August, and you will likel meet visitors not only from all over the United States, but also from across the world.

Veteran tour guide Alex Morris had a memorable international moment at Lost River Cave this week. Alex, who’s studied Spanish for the past two years and experienced it firsthand while traveling abroad in Mexico and Guatemala, welcomed two visitors from Spain as they dropped by the cave to see what the underground boat tour was all about. Below is a photo of Alex and her new friend, Nacho, in front of Wildflower Gifts.

Alex communicated with the Spaniards almost entirely in Spanish. She learned they were driving a rented car through the United States and were en route to Nashville and then Raleigh.

While Alex and the rest of the employees at Lost River Cave wouldn’t consider themselves bilingual, they all understand the importance of welcoming multicultural and international visitors and overcoming language barriers.

Anne Michelle Reynolds has worked at Lost River Cave since the beginning of this summer, and occasionally she’s encountered language barriers when communicating with deaf people.

“The most important thing is to be direct, and to use your hands to emphasize,” Anne Michelle said.  “It’s also important to try to be friendly and understanding.”

Cashier Jessica Paull said European languages are frequently spoken, and the cave also gets a lot of visitors from Asia.

“I think I’ve probably seen someone from every culture around the world,” Jessica said.

Alex tries to be inquisitive and still polite to every visitor she meets. She stressed that, as a tour guide, it is important not only to share information to visitors, but also to listen to what other visitors have to say.

“They were really friendly,” Alex said of her new friends from Spain. “Even though the staff picks on me for running off Spanish speakers (because I’m so excited to speak to them), I find that usually when you offer a few words to someone in their native language, they open up to you and are happy you are trying to communicate, even if you do have to ask them to slow down or repeat themselves.”

“I am pretty sure Lost River Cave left them with a good impression,” Alex said of her new acquaintances. “After we chatted in Spanish, they told me in English that they would always remember Kentucky for its hospitality.”

Thousands of visitors pass through Lost River Cave throughout the year for all kinds of different reasons, from celebrating a wedding to walking the nature trails.

“Whether you’re from Kentucky or Cambodia, we want you to feel welcome at Lost River Cave,” said Lost River Cave’s Executive Director Rho Lansden.

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