Thinking About Community

By May 25, 20102010, Europe

The theme for the Europe Trip 2010 is the “Individual and community”. I didn’t think about that much when I first read it in our syllabus; in fact, I briefly considered how corny that sounded! This week, however, it’s been cropping up a lot, and I’m thinking about that deep, largely unplumbed concept with dread, anxiety, excitement, anticipation, fear, gladness—pretty much every emotion available.

In my first year, “thinking about community” was codename for going to the washroom ‘for a very long time’. In my second year, “thinking about community” meant sending one mystery slushy from Chiang Mai University’s meal hall around a circle of fellow classmates—we were all sick, so it never mattered if there was only one straw. Now, in my third year, community a much broader meaning for me—one I haven’t quite laid my finger on yet. I’ve spent the past week feeling like my brain was its own little storm system of emotions and reminders and forgotten reminders and unpreparedness. I’ve had moments of breakdown, moments of irrational insecurity, moments of exhaustion, moments of depression, moments of restlessness, moments of…well, you get the idea: I’ve been on a roller coaster of moments! But then, by chance, I overheard someone else mentioning that she felt the same way! After further discussion, half the girls on the girls’ hall had confessed to feeling some kind of distress over our coming trip. Someone suggested praying about it, and a few hours later we had gathered in an empty room and were compiling a lengthy prayer list. Just last night, I had three or four people helping me make a belated packing list as I obsessed over forgotten items which I immediately forgot again.

Tomorrow, I board a bus with these same people and cook and tent and sweat with them in the heat of a European summer for eight weeks. And I’m glad, and really nervous, and thoroughly challenged at the prospect of holding up my end of this theme of the “individual and community”, at the prospect of being part of a community that I’m already so in need of, and at the prospect of thinking about community with them in ways all too personal! So, here goes! Let the individual be vulnerable!

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