Community living was one of the major reasons that I chose to do a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps over many other service organizations. What IS community living, you ask? Basically, I’ll be living with 5 or 6 other JV’s who are doing their volunteer work in the Baltimore area in an intentional community. We’ll be living within Baltimore, together. We will have a group food stipend and we’ll plan reflection and recreation nights together. I’ll be living with people my own age who also chose to dedicate a year for others. Sounds great, right?
It does sound great, but it’ll also be a great challenge. I haven’t lived with someone I’ve never met since freshman year (and I lucked out there) and now I’ll be living with 5 or 6 people I’ve never encountered. We’ll all be there for the same overarching reason, that of completing a year of service, but the specific reasons why we’re each there will likely differ greatly. We’ll come from different backgrounds, schools, and faiths. We’ll be in different places as people, in our faith, and in our lives. We’ll have differing views on what living simply means, we’ll be serving in different capacities, and we’ll have differing schedules.
OK, so how do we all get on the same page? Simple: communication.
I never really got into MTV’s The Real World, but I’ve watched enough of it to realize that communication is vital to any living space with so many people from different backgrounds. Luckily, my community members and I won’t be feeling the pressure of being on TV and may have a bit more in common with each other than Real World participants, but we’ll still need to sit down together and hash out what we expect from our JV community and from each other. Will we go grocery shopping once a month as a group or let one person do it every month or should we do something totally different? Does anyone have allergies or food preferences? When will recreation night be? When will reflection night be? Who’s going to plan these events? What will we do on weekends? What about chores? What if 2 or 3 people need the bathroom to get ready for work at the same time? …And that’s just logistics!
Seems like a lot of work, but if we take the time to do it early on, we’ll save time and frustration in the future. Hopefully, we can make our community into one that is both harmonious and enjoyable for everyone. It’ll take sacrifice and care, but I think we can do it.