So here’s the thing. As orientation went on, another big realization started to set in. The more we listened to the sessions and talked, the more I recognized I hadn’t really fully prepared for what this year would look like. I mean we were talking about serious interracial realities, simple living to the max, incredibly difficult intentional community, and the desperate need for self-care in a time when we will be giving an awful lot of ourselves up. And now, being here for a solid 24 hours now, I can say I have continued to be surprised.
As I walk down my street and through the H-E-B grocery store, it’s incredibly obvious that we are the only white people around. We keep hearing that even the police will stop us and ask us what we are doing in this part of town. And every time you go out walking, you pass about 10 dogs in fences and about 10 more just stray dogs walking the streets. We have already been warned to walk in tennis shoes to be prepared if a feral dog comes up a little too aggressively. I also learned that we will be living on food stamps this year because we are literally living that simply. Even our Spanish class this morning was filled with cultural tips for how to relate to the people of this community plus some clarification for the terms for butt (all happening as the Zumba house next door is shaking the ground with its beats). It’s already like no life I’ve ever lived before and part of that is really exciting! But another part of me realizes how hard it will be.
I had realized that I’d have cultural differences to work through with my community and church but I had not thought about the cultural differences even within my house until our goal setting meeting today. Julius and Ashley are both local to San Antonio and are students for this year. Danielle our site coordinator said she tries to avoid putting the locals and people coming in all together in one house because it is so challenging for everyone. But even so, I really am excited to learn from my housemates and to work together to form an open and honest intentional community. Goal setting did go well and I can already see the fun that we will have together!