The Japanese art of Origami can generate hours of pleasure not just for the person creating it but also for onlookers. Transforming a simple sheet of paper into myriad forms, Origami produces the simple paper boat and plane that all children have played with as well as complex designs of animals and birds that can thrill both children and the child in an adult. But an acquaintance found another impact of this art form ~ as an ice-breaker and making friends.

An engineer by profession, this person was on an assignment to a Spanish-speaking Latin American country, where he found language to be a slight barrier in dealing with the staff. However, since they were very warm people, he made do with sign language or a translator. Thus it was that one day a lady staff member walked in with her daughter, aged around six. During lunch hour, as the child romped around, our friend picked up a sheet of paper and folded it into a bird, which flapped its wings when its tail was pulled.

Presenting it to the little girl, he was gratified by the pleasure that lit her face. As she ran around, “flying” the bird, our friend was approached by three young women armed with sheets of paper. In a mix of Spanish and a smattering of English, the women indicated they too wanted the Origami birds for their children. It was soon a matter of time before the young man became popular and the staff went out of their way to help him in his assignment.