Sunday, September 28, 2008

Community

At the moment I am working on a post about the adventures in celebrating Fiestas Patrias, Chile's Independence Day.  Prior to hosting this however, I feel that two key people should be introduced: Brian Smith and John Power.

Brian and John arrived in late July as part of the Holy Cross Congregation's Overseas Lay Missions program (the links to their blogs are on the right.)  John and Brian will spend the next 18 months in Santiago, Chile, working at Nuestra Senora de Andacollo, a k-12 school owned by the Congregation (and the school where I teach English every Wednesday to 1st and 2nd graders.)  

Brian Smith is from Massillon, Ohio and graduated from the University of Notre Dame last May.  Brian studied Romance Languages and Literature, which is an incredibly fancy name for an incredibly fancy major - he spent four years reading literature in both Spanish and French, writing papers in the languages accordingly.  Thus, he is fluent in both languages.  His Chilean Spanish was further developed when he spent a semester in Santiago, Chile during college.  I was quite impressed with Brian right off the bat; on the first day he had a conversation with Chilean Father Erwin and not only understood everything Father Erwin said, but could coherently respond to Father Erwin in response.  This is important because Father Erwin has always been known for being quite difficult to understand, both by Chileans and Americans alike.  

Having Brian around has been refreshing - not only is he incredibly perceptive, recognizing all the beauty in the small details of life, but he provides for interesting conversations as well as a dictionary whenever a word in Spanish is unknown. :-)

John Power comes from Fox Island, Washington and graduated from the University of Portland this past May after studying Political Science, History, and French.  Just like Brian, he is fluent in French, not only because of his studies, but because he spent a year in high school and a semester in college in Paris through a study abroad program.  (His good times in Paris often provide for entertaining stories!)  John's laid back demeanor and easy going personality can be accredited to his upbringing on the west coast.  A self-proclaimed "big picture" person, John's strengths not only lie in his ability to see the world for what it truly is, but in his work ethic and dedication to all things that he truly cares for, particularly family.   

Brian, John, and I, being the only volunteers for the Congregation of Holy Cross, spend a large part of our time together.  At first, it was understood that due to my almost 2-year experience in Chile, I would act as a facilitator to their experience, advising and answering questions when needed.  After all, I am in a very different place than they are: I have lived this life for sometime, am very comfortable, and am somewhat beginning to start my transition out of Chile.  They just arrived with fresh eyes to this very new and different experience.  Yet, very soon after meeting, the three of us knew that the relationship between us would not exist as it does on paper, but something more.  Judging by the fact that I pretty much live at their apartment now, I can confidently say our assumption was correct.

The other day we laughed when we realized that Brian and John are as different as night and day, and I oddly have qualities of both, providing a nice middle balance.  I thoroughly enjoy how different we are and how we each contribute a different characteristic to the group dynamic, yet we all seem to compliment each other nicely.  

It is often said that you do not miss something until its gone.  This was certainly true for me with living in a community; I have been living on my own without community since I became the last Holy Cross Associate way back in March and recently have become aware that sharing the experience of Chile,  with all its trials, tribulations, and successes, is something that I have grown to miss and have found once again in Brian and John.

In the next few weeks, I will be moving into John's and Brian's apartment.  We had to consider this option when we realized I was unofficially living there anyway, spending about 4 of the 7 nights of the week at their apartment.  In discussing this possibility, we realized the decision for me to move in with them officially is a good decision for all of us, with extra financial and mental bonuses for me (no more living with crazy old lady!)  So, I look forward to spending my remaining 5 months in Chile with them, growing from their presence in my life, hoping that I can enhance their lives as much as they do mine.

In order, from left to right: Brian Smith, me, John Power.  Photo taken during a visit to the coast of Chile, about an hour outside of Santiago.




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