Throughout my time here in L’Arca, I have learned what it is like to live as a part of a community. Working together and knowing how to communicate with others is vital. In L’Arca, there are so many activities happening at once that it can get overwhelming at times and knowing how the community works as well as understanding the schedule helps a lot. During my first weeks here, I found myself frustrated at times because I felt like I was out of place and there would be times where I wouldn’t know what I should be doing. I have learned that I don’t always need to be doing something. Being in the moment, sitting, and spending time with the core members is just as important. At first, being a new volunteer to the community, I wanted to be able to help out as much as I could. For me, that meant always keeping my hands busy, running errands, or helping clean. I think this is because in the US we are so used to doing something all the time. Our schedules are busy with things to do all throughout the day that we lack to embrace the importance in stopping and appreciating the life we live now. In L’Arca, I have definitely learned how to appreciate time more. I have learned to take the time to pause, admire the present and the people I am with.
This past week, some of the core members and assistants left for a week-long vacation to Piobbico, a city by the mountains. I came to realize how close I have gotten with the core members and the assistants because throughout the week I found myself missing them and thinking about what we would be doing during a certain time of the day. One of the core members I missed was Robbie. He and I have gotten close during my time here. I think it is because we both find happiness in helping others. Robbie and I always work together in the kitchen, helping cut vegetables and fruit for merenda (snack time). He helps me clean the dishes after and puts them away in the dishwasher. Further, we also usually attend mass together during the weekdays. I didn’t realize how close I have gotten to several of the members until they left for a week and my work schedule felt different without them. I am also getting close to one of the assistants here, Katia. She speaks English very well and I think we have been getting close because she wants to practice her English and I want to practice my Italian, therefore we help each other. She invited me to her home last weekend where she showed me the river and parks she lives close to. Because I have been spending my days off usually in the city, it was nice to have a change of scenery because it reminded me of Oregon! She showed me around her town, Casalecchio di Reno. We went shopping and she took me to one of her favorite Italian restaurants (did you know that Spaghetti with Meatballs isn’t actually Italian?!). It was truly a nice day spent with her. I am finally finding my place in the community and am getting close to everyone here!