When I was asked to deliver a speak-up about my community I felt conflicted about what I defined as my community. So I decided to look it up and Dictionary.com gave me this:
“Community: A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”
This led me to the question of “Who makes up my community?” As the Global Citizen I believe I have become, the answer varies greatly.
When we think about our own individual communities we might be inclined to think of the place we come from and the people that live there. However, after having experiences such as United World College (UWC) and Global Citizen Year, whom you consider part of your community, and what the location of that community is changes. How?
Well, in my case my community is scattered all around the globe, it’s very diverse and I often don’t share a cultural or historical heritage with many of its individuals.
Being honest with you, it bothers me a little when I feel like I would like a place to go back to sometimes where I know everybody and everybody knows me. I feel this way specially now after moving more than a couple of times in the past 10 years.
On the other hand, everything has its perks and advantages too. So I don’t have a fixed community in a fixed place but consequently I have many friends in many countries and a lifetime to visit them. Another perk? There is space in my heart to welcome new ideas of community, and consequently welcoming the idea of belonging to different communities too.
Luckily enough, I have received the blessing of being welcomed myself to a wonderful and unique community here in Garopaba. Allow me to give you an insight of how it looks like:
It starts in Morro de Fortunato, where all of my neighbors are part of my family and this family makes up the Quilombo community of Morro de Fortunato (A Quilombo is a free-slave colony). This community was founded by Fortunato, a slave in freedom, eight generations ago and we feel very proud about it.
In my family you’re always greeted with an “Opa!” “Bom dia!” “Todo bom?” “Esta boazinha?” And most certainly invited in for coffee if you visit. This family is made up of do-gooders, kind, hardworking, open-minded, loving individuals. They live on top of a hill surrounded by mountains and the most wonderful view I have ever seen with a view to the lagoon and the ocean behind it.
Next, my community stretches down to Macacu where the community’s primary school is. I work there and I must tell you that it has the most loving and caring staff. It also has good children who live by the values their teachers teach them and it shows! Its shows when they smile at me and hug me in the mornings, when they ask for help showing how they trust I’m there to help them, when they are patient with my Portuguese, and when they tell me how much they appreciate my affection and stories.
Finally, my community ends in Garopaba. There I now recognize the faces of the people I see and greet them by name too. I know how to get to places and where to find things too. I have also found Atitude dance academy and the Spiritist Center of Garopaba (Alan Kardek’s Spiritism). I also have Marcella my team leader and my fellow Fellows.
It’s funny how I feel at home here. I feel part of the community in Garopaba even though I can only communicate in my newly developed Portuguese, and our only common heritage is being Latino. I feel as though every day I become more a part of this community and that this community considers me a part of it too.
It makes me happy to be part of this community. It makes me so happy I want to stay longer. It makes me so happy that I know that when I leave I’m going come back.