Written: October 5, 2007 from Lokiphur Mission, Sylhet
What does itmean to live in community? I don't know if I will ever live in community like rural Bangladeshis, although I am not at all opposed to the idea of communal living. In this country, family is everything, it is what defines who you are and family is interwoven into all aspects of culture from the social ills of child marriage through to the amazing generosity to the poor. I know I could never live the same life my parents live, and always live in the same place; which is clearly witnessed through my choice to leave for a year. But, I am so very blessed to be living in such a great community. Religion is very important to Bangladeshis and the Christian community is relatively small, this combination has allowed me, a foreigner, to truly be part of a community. I eat entirely in community, everywhere I go. Be that passing plates of food around a circle, passing a cup of water, or eating the same puffed rice as everyone else. Everything here is done together and in huge quantities. The puffed rice for 30 comes in a large, garbage-style bin, and even catering pots don't compare to the pot for serving bhat (rice). It is so wonderful to see everything here being done together.
This community makes me think of intentional communities in North America. Why is it that our communities have lost so much of the sharing I see here. Why must a mutually beneficial community need to be somewhere people need to look for? There are many challenges to creating this type of community in somewhere like Waterloo, one of which is people don't need a community. Community living tends to be simple, but the life in a community is so wonderful. And in this place, the community brings me closer to the lives of others around me. This sense of inclusion is entirely beneficial to my emotional well-being and my ability to relate to those around me.