Throughout my time in the L’Arche community, I built and nourished many relationships with the core members as well as the assistants and volunteers I was working with. One of the relationships I cherish is with one of the core members, Robbie. During my first couple weeks in the community, I did not think that we would get as close as we did. He often seemed distant and I assumed he liked being alone. As my time in the community progressed, I learned that he was the opposite. I often found myself working in the kitchen alongside him. We bonded over music, chopping fruits and vegetables, and cleaning. Robbie became one of my best friends in the community. Just sitting next to him while chopping bell peppers and eggplants made him content and satisfied. He would always hold my hand or hold my face in the cup of his hands. I think that Robbie and I bonded a lot through helping others because he and I were always helping the assistants and volunteers together.
There were a lot of things that brought me joy during my experience in the L’Arche community. It made me really happy to sit around a big table and eat dinner with everyone. It was especially joyful when we sang songs before and after every meal. I realized that being at the table became a place where everyone would come together and just socialize and talk about their days and their plans. It was frustrating at times because I could not fully understand what all they were saying because everyone spoke very little English, but I learned to pick up some Italian here and there to somewhat understand what they were all talking about.
One of the hardest things I had to overcome was the language. Some days were better than others, but on the days that were bad, I truly felt like I was failing on the communication part of the experience. On these days, I would go back to my room and study a little bit of Italian on my phone and learn/ memorize some phrases that I knew I would use later on.