“What it Means to Be With Others” – Emily Taylor ’22

The first time that I felt impassioned to go out into the Worcester community happened before my initial site visit or my first CBL reflection it happened in the second meeting of my Montserrat course. I was placed in Professor Ryan’s seminar on “Identity, Diversity, and Community”, and I’m forever thankful to her and my classmates for providing such a welcoming and supportive space in which I could so meaningfully deepen my community engagement. Throughout the year, Pr. Ryan problematized focusing on being ‘men and women for others’ above being ‘with others’. When she explained the potential damage in ignoring this second, more difficult component of service relationships during that first week of classes, I felt a newfound call to a healthier form of service. By the time I entered Claremont Academy towards the end of September, I was ready to form the kind of relationships we had been discussing in class.

The lesson that I have learned time and time again from CBL, however, is that it does not matter how prepared I personally feel to be in relationship with others, but instead that it takes time, patience, and vulnerability from me as well as from those at my sites in order to make the connections that I hope to form. This intentionality can’t be forced or rushed, and the most wonderful things that I’ve gained from my CBL experiences have all come after I’ve learned to adjust my expectations accordingly. Being someone with others means leaving behind your  assumptions and entering humbly and compassionately into their spaces and lives as much as they allow you to, and for you to do the same. If someone approaches their service in search of a story to write about, it will keep them from truly being with others; no one will provide you with a life-changing or all-illuminating conversation, but they will share themselves if you are present and listen. 

I’m so thankful that CBL has given me the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom and beyond my own life experience. It has reminded me that we belong to Worcester as much as we belong on the hill, even though our campus can sometimes feel so far removed, and even more importantly, it has reminded me that we belong to each other. 

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