Today is a particularly windy day here in the village in Bali. The sun continues to beam as brightly as it has ever since I arrived. I’m sitting in our outdoor common area with the other volunteers as everyone works on the various projects they have to do. Some are making origami as preparations for their classes, some are making goodbye cards, one is laying in a hammock, and the dog is laying with us on the bench dreaming about whatever it is that Balinese dogs dream about.
This group dynamic that we find ourselves in is so special and critical to the experience that’s been created here. When I sought out a volunteer program I made sure to choose one that had a strong sense of community. I’m an independent person and I’m capable of doing things on my own, but there are times to be alone and times to be around others. Those who spend their entire lives in solitude lose out on the great rewards of human connectivity. It’s the thing that we spend our lives seeking, even if we don’t know it.
Taking the form of romance, religion, friendship, next-door neighbours, or any form of companionship, community inevitably strengthens our ties with one another and leads to something greater that we can’t attain on our own.
Sometimes it’s difficult to find community. Sometimes we find temporary communities that cannot last forever. I know very well that this community I find myself in now is one that waxes and wanes as volunteers come and go. It’s temporary like everything else, but while we are together we share a heightened level of camaraderie. And when it’s time to go, we can bring parts of this community with us to the next. The community may change on a visible level, but the connectivity always persists in one way or another.
A few days ago at the beach a group of us volunteers headed for an after-school swim. When we arrived, there were about 10 kids playing on the beach. What ended up happening was an incredible sunset swim with the kids while we all played, laughed, splashed each other with water, and simply had an incredible time. This scene will be etched in my memory for years to come. This village is a community that I have the privilege of being a part of.
Together, we spent the past weekend in Ulu Watu, a small surfer town in the south of Bali. We found accommodations at a great surfer shack on the cliffside overlooking Padang Padang beach thanks to the recommendation of one of the volunteers. We all split up into smaller groups throughout the weekend but continually met up in passing. Community doesn't need to be rigid and it certainly doesn't mean sacrificing independence. But it means being able to come back to each other and share stories and experiences.
Everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to be a part of something. Finding and constructing community is one of my main goals in life, and being here in the village has taught me that the power of community is immeasurable.
When we are together, we thrive.
What community do you contribute to?