The word “community” has come up in my life over the past week in various contexts, and so I have been reflecting on it.
For example, I have some new neighbors who I had never seen before so I introduced myself to them. They appeared somewhat surprised that I had done this. I guess gone are the days that we deliver a casserole to someone who moves into the neighborhood? (Am I showing my age?)
Also, when I lived in Japan, especially for the first year, sometimes I felt like I was dreaming, even though I was awake. This was because, for the most part, I couldn’t read anything around me, understand the television, nor the people. In some ways, it was good, because it kept me from being barraged by information, but at the same time, it was a little isolating.
This all changed for me when I met my teachers Hiroyuki and Mie, as well as all my other classmates who were taking cooking classes in their cooking school. They all very warmly welcomed me into their community, even though I was an outsider. Suddenly, there were people to interact and learn with, which made it a lot more fun, and a lot more motivating. Not only could I taste everything so I knew what it was ‘supposed’ to be like, but I could share this experience with others; what we liked, what we were surprised by, and what we wanted to try at home. Everyone around me was committed to healthy living and learning. If I had continued reading from books and cooking only at home, I don’t believe I would have gotten as far, thanks to my community. They kept me hooked in.
The other “medicine” living in a foreign country that restored me was renting episodes of Sex in the City. Eventually, I made female friends as time went by, but as I’m sure you know, girlfriends are another great way to build your community support network. I talked to two different super awesome women in the past week who shared their personal experiences with me. We often keep such information to ourselves, but speaking things out loud really has been an incredibly positive and life affirming experience.
If you have ever attended my cooking classes here in Hawaii, I have infused these values of community spirit and the importance of sharing into the cooking classes as much as possible. As a teacher, I think group interaction is one of the best and most pleasant ways to learn.
Here are a couple of images that have circulated on Facebook that offer other ways to build community.