Sunday, August 31, 2008

A different type of community

First of all I want to send a shout out to all my friends who are at Burning Man right now. I have been thinking about you all this week and have been wearing my Burning Man necklaces in solidarity (see picture). Have fun at the Burn tonight and know that my thoughts are with you all!

In response to thinking about Burning Man all this week and especially today, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of community. I was blessed to live in Portland for 10 years and to have an amazing community of friends and support, both professionally and personally. It was a difficult decision to leave this safety net and dive into not just a different city, but a different country and culture as well. I missed, and still continue to miss, my close group of friends and colleagues who were always there (and who continue to be there) to help me, support me, have fun with me, and watch my back. It is a treasure to feel so much love and support. I miss having this on a day to day basis.

Since arriving in Brazil, I have felt a real lack of community in my life. Now community is a huge part of Brazilian culture, but I have found it difficult to find a community to be a part of. I participated in the capoeira community for a while, but now don´t have time to train and attend classes, so I am kind of cut off from this group of folks. I was doing volunteer work for a while at the beginning of my time in Salvador and was sort of a part of a community of lesbians, but always felt like an outsider due to my language skills at the time. Now, I guess I find myself part of two communities: the English teaching community and the community of family and friends that my students have. Neither of these communities have the same elements as my community in Portland, and I wonder- is it enough?

In my mind, community provides a number of areas of support. It is a place to share and receive, be it material goods, services, ideas, money, or other things. It is a place where you can ask for and give your time, emotional support, or a helping hand to a friend. It provides a place to feel safe, valued, and a part of something bigger than yourself. The communities that I am a part of here have some of these elements, but not all. And the one that I miss the most is the emotional support and equal friendship that I had an abundance of when I was living in Portland. I just don´t have those kind of friends here that I can call up and say "Hey, lets hang out!" or "I am feeling bummed out, can I talk with you?". The longer I am away from this, the more I realize that I really need this in my life.

So enjoy the community out in the Nevada desert and soak it all in while you can. You never know when you might be cut off from it.

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