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Formality and Friendship

From our Community Farmer, Vania

Hey ya’ll for this summer's letter I really wanted to center two youth whom I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside with and would love to share a story about them. They really made this summer special and put a lot of intention and effort into it, so here’s a little quick story from my perspective…

As Grow Windham’s Community Farmer, I often get to observe a variety of dynamics between our youth members, and the beginning of our Summer season is always one of my favorite points to take note of. I can confidently say that our youth members always adapt and change during the 8 weeks. Who they showed up as during the first day, is not the same person who shows up during the last. Rosy and Ismael are clear examples of that; they were selected as our co-garden managers for this summer.

Ismael and Rosy both have great work ethic, intuition and community instinct, they both work very well with both plants and people. However, the start of the summer was a bit difficult for them as there was a language barrier. Ismael is fluent in English and understands a bit of Spanish, while Rosy is working on both her English and Spanish, her first language is actually Quiché, an indigenous dialect of Guatemala.

At the beginning of the Summer I facilitated a lot of their conversations. They both had similar fears about communicating in a language they weren’t too familiar with, and struggled a bit to bond and get on the same page. Just like many of us do when we first work with someone new, they feared they wouldn’t be able to get along with one another. Even though they had worked multiple summers together in the past, there was never a reason for them to really push themselves to communicate with one another beyond a cordial “Hi” and “Bye”. However, now they had to and they realized they were gonna have to push past their fears and the language barrier. I admired the struggle in their process a lot, the way they both showed up knowing that their conversations were not gonna go smoothly, and that there was going to be some frustration regardless, yet still committed to showing up and struggling together.

After three weeks or so of this, they eventually got more comfortable with one another after realizing that they were sharing a very similar experience, even if it was in a different language.

Their cordial “Hi” and “Bye”, quickly turned into running jokes about the garden, and bilingual co-facilitations of workshops (which are really hard to do by the way). As if their communication wasn’t a huge task itself they also managed to support our gardens and programs simultaneously, facilitating work days and workshops on the regular. And they were able to do it because they both committed to supporting one another through the process!

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