The past couple of weeks have been easier in the sense I know the core members, assistants and the schedule better. I know what to do at certain times and where I should be. I know the members’ habits and who needs some assistance with specific tasks. I just feel that I am more in-tuned with L’Arche and the way of life.
My greatest accomplishment so far has been to create relationships with the ragazzi (core members with disabilities) through other ways of communication besides verbal. One person in my house is not the most talkative guy, but I was just mimicking his movements a week ago and just that simple interaction earned me a smile. Then the next few days I would sit next to him and rub his back to just comfort him. This progressive bonding transcending to him falling asleep on my shoulder one day after lunch when we were on the couch again. I felt so honored that he felt so comfortable with me to fall asleep and relax. This whole experience gave me a new appreciation for other ways to communicate. With other ragazzi, I have been using like hand motions and facial expressions to get across my point, but still be a part of the conversation. Now, when the core member sees me, he always goes out of his way to say hi to me and greet me; it just makes fills me with happiness knowing we may not speak the same language, but we still connected.
Along with me adapting to different ways of communication, I have become more used to the gentle, slow lifestyle that is here. My time at L’Arche has really let me reflect and evaluate my life in comparison to life here. In America, we have this giant, imaginative clock hanging over heads dictating our time, making us feel pressure and also, rushing us. It seems like there is not enough time to do all things we want when there actually is plenty of time. At first I was always feeling like I should be doing something, but here, that is not the priority. The main objective is not for all the ragazzi to finish their projects at the end of a day’s work or eat as quickly as possible to go to the next activity. This lifestyle is about just being in the moment and being present. With this lifestyle, I have been able to have more of a focus, organized mind, and in general, an appreciation for time.
At the end of this experience, I hope to learn and keep some of the tools that I have used. However, these two points: communication and time have changed my perspective tremendously. I hope to keep these values in mind when I go back to home because I can use them for my future nursing career. Also, these will keep me in check by realizing that there is time to take a breath and I do not need to always be on the move.