March 15, 2013: Trip demonstrates we are each ‘part of the main,’ by Crystal Borhani

March 15, 2013 by

I recently witnessed a reminder of the opportunity we all have to forge new friendships and develop community, even within the context of larger communities we already belong to.

Earlier this month I spent a few days in El Paso, Texas, with the first of two groups participating in the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Alternative Spring Break program. As they were arriving, the students were so animated and familiar with each other that I assumed they all were friends at the college they attend in Massachusetts. At least a full day passed before I realized that out of the 10 students, only a couple of them were acquainted before starting the trip.

Several of the students said they intentionally chose to go with people they didn’t know, to give themselves the opportunity to build personal relationships that go beyond the basic connection of attending the same college. They realized that they needed to actively participate in order to reap the true benefits that come from belonging to a community — friendship, exposure, knowledge and experience, to name a few.

It clearly didn’t take these students long to embrace wholeheartedly the spirit of relationship building! Over their week together, they had a chance to further build their own little community bond of memories that, hopefully, will grow even after they leave El Paso and return to their campus.

Watching these students interact was a pleasant reminder to myself to take every opportunity to jump into experiences that will connect me to others and keep my eyes, heart and mind open.

Just as we use the platform of a larger community to develop smaller, closer ones within, I believe we should also remember the importance of branching out from the personal level. It only takes two people to build a foundation of quality relationship and caring that can easily grow, connecting everyone it touches in community.

This poem by John Donne captures the spirit of human relationships:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Relationships come at us from all directions; we should never pass an opportunity to develop new ones.

— Crystal Borhani is a Manhattan native with many friends in the Concordia area and on the Year of Peace Committee. She presently works for American Airlines, her background is in community development and she is an avid adventurer.



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