Building trust in our community

To build community, we give each other appreciations. Pictured above (l-r) are Village Members Dan Blahnik, Laura Cutler and Krista Corwin writing appreciations to one another.

This post about our Basic Training Retreat is from the perspective of Jackson Starr, a 21-year-old first year corps member from Portland, Oregon.

As excited as I was for BTR all I could think about on the bus ride there and during lunch was what school I was going to be placed at and more importantly, who my team was going to be for the next year.

I was lucky enough to get my school of choice, Lee Mathson Middle School. I also felt fortunate that I already felt a strong bond with at least half of the people that were placed on my team.

What I was unsure about was the other half who, up until now, I hadn’t spoken to at all.  I knew nothing about them other than their names, and there didn’t seem to be much in common between us at a glance.  The activities through the rest of the day (which I am hesitant to go into detail on, part of me feels that that is knowledge only for those privileged enough to experience it first hand) certainly brought us closer together and allowed me to get to know them better, but I still had reservations.

The morning break of day two is when it hit me.  I felt like I had spent months with these people, not days, and all reservations I had evaporated.  And that feeling would only get stronger as the day went on.  We had activities and workshops designed to have us open up to our teams and get more personal than we normally would have so early on.  But there I was telling my team things I have told almost no one, things I certainly won’t repeat here.

I still don’t quite understand why I revealed those things, but I’m not worried.  I feel my team can both understand and work with me better (and I with them through the details they gave me) and I know I can trust them to keep what I told them to themselves.

And here I am, the evening of day three of my team placement, sitting at my new apartment writing this and still not convinced that I only discovered my team a mere 48 hours ago.  I have been nervous about the work we will be doing but I have never been more confident now that I have such strong support behind me.

I was asked to write about my experience at BTR and what it meant to me, and for me it meant community.  That this is a community of people from all over the country with all different experiences that I will be going through a year of service with, that I will be laughing and struggling with and I can already tell I won’t forget years from now when we have gone our separate ways.

All I can do now is look to this coming year of service and say: Bring It On.

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