One step, “Hello Tom.” Another step, “Hi Maureen.” Another three steps, “How are you, Joe?” Una, our tour guide, seems to know everyone in this ecovillage. Not a person passes without a greeting from our kind tour guide. Una is a tiny white-haired woman, with a big heart. This is just one of the many people in this ecovillage who created a community. A community is a group of people who share common interests, common goals, and are willing to work together to reach these goals. The ecovillage is the epitome of a community because they all are working to create a greener planet.
While spending time in the ecovillage, I saw first-hand how this community works together in order to be environmentally conscious, by composting, saving water, reducing waste, and eating locally grown foods. One thing I really enjoyed was when we asked Peadar about how their community agrees on everything. He responded by saying, “we don’t always get along and we don’t always agree on everything.” I think this is important to the success of a community. Just because you want to reach a common goal does not mean you are going to agree on everything, it is important to let every person voice their opinion and allow them to feel heard.
The community in the ecovillage is similar to the community that we have created in our time in Ireland. Although there have been ups and downs or differences of opinion within our group, we all have the common goal to come study the beauty of Ireland for the experience and educational opportunities of a lifetime. Throughout our trip, there have been times where our tolerance has been tested. We have all faced the feelings of homesickness, sleep deprivation, and stress but at the end of the day, we all knew we had 18 other people in our same boat. The strength of a community is knowing you’re not alone and understanding that better times are coming.
From studying the community of the ecovillage and experiencing the comfort of being in our own community, I realized how important it is to feel a part of something bigger than just ourselves. Una showed me just how important it is to build relationships within your community in order to create a bond that goes further than your average neighborhood. After spending just, a couple of days with Una, I saw the pride she took in knowing her peers and attempting to understand even the smallest thing about them. Una’s friendliness and compassion towards the members of her community was an inspiring example of how she built relationships, which we attempted to bring back to our own RWU Ireland community. At the end of the day we came here knowing one or two of our classmates and we leave here with 16 kind classmates and 2 unbelievably inspirational, smart and caring professors who helped us have the experience of a lifetime. As I say goodbye to my friends and family over the past two weeks I keepthis quote from Martin Luther King Jr. in the back of my head, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.