Social Justice | Spirituality | Community | Simplicity
“My most fulfilling and memorable experience living in community is the capacity of sheer, careless laughter in my community. Laughter was a constant theme of the year, constantly reminding us how human we are through our faults, our triumphs, and our mistakes.”
Volunteers live in an intentional community where they provide support to one another, share their experiences of service, and commit to building open and honest relationships.
Volunteers work together to set community goals and challenge one another to live a life of simplicity in solidarity with those they serve. In a sometimes isolating and individualistic culture, GSV community offers an alternative approach that can lead to solidarity and friendship.
Communities range in size from about three to six people. Volunteers may live in an apartment, former convent, or part of a school or parish. They all have a private bedroom, though sometimes they share a bedroom with one other person. There is a shared kitchen and living room.
In community life, volunteers are invited to share meals, pool their money for food, share chores, and have regular community nights and spirituality nights. Each community has a Support Person who assists them in holding themselves accountable to their goals. The community-living experience is different from a typical roommate experience; it asks for a more real and authentic presence to one’s fellow community members. Volunteers have each other to learn how to cook, explore their local city or town together, and “lean on” through the challenges during the year.
Reflection on Community
by Pilar Siman, GSV Paraguay ‘07-09
As I reflect on my experience thus far living in Paraguay, I realize how over the past six months the term “Community” has come to mean so much more than just a tenet we strive to uphold as Good Shepherd Volunteers. Now, when I envision Community I think of: late night conversations, over the fake wall that divides our single bedroom, that end only when someone starts to snore, the various rounds of charades played on rainy days when it’s too muddy to go outside, and the way Katie and Maggie managed to throw me a birthday party my first week here and invited almost 20 nuns so I wouldn’t feel like I had no friends. I am reminded of the patience my community mates have shown as I slowly learn to cook, and when after having only lived in gigantic cities, and arriving to live in rural Paraguay, I became totally intimidated.
As these few examples show, for me choosing to live in community has meant a lot of laughter and fun times, but also allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to be helped by others. It has been realizing the joy that comes when I give up feeling the need to be “strong” or prove that I can do everything on my own and instead adopting a different life style. One in which I give what I can, but also receive what those around me have to offer; whether it be a little kid joke when I’m homesick, or advice on how to wash my clothes by hand in less than 8 hours.