I find that one of the greatest parts of Chewonki is mealtime. When we all filter into the Wallace center and cluster around the green circle tables, it’s like a magnetic force pulls us in. Not only are we drawn to the great food prepared by Bill, Matt and Lisa that incorporates delicious farm veggies, meat ,and local foods but the dining hall attracts us because mealtimes are a time where people can really connect. Farmers, teachers, students and staff all mix in to share their stories of the day, speak Spanish at La Mesa de Espanol, or just talk about whatever topics are on our minds. The connections and people draw you in to make mealtimes so special.
When I sat down to write this blog, an event that jumps to mind is one particular lunch conversation. A few days ago, I found myself at a table with Tamothy, the head nurse, Marjo, the linguistics-queen French teacher and a few of my fellow students. We were talking about travel, sparked by the impending departure of Becky, one of our beloved OC staff, who was heading off back to Australia to work on the Harvest Trail (Check it out! https://jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail/default.aspx). We talked about how much we admired adventure, how exciting the world was with all the places you can go, and all the experiences there are just waiting for you. From indigenous farming in South America to herbal medicine in the mountains of Italy, each person contributed their own unique interests and inspirations for travel to the table. In between Marjo’s experience with IHP (International Honors Program), the Harvest Trail and also the presentation by the founder of Omprakash.org a while ago, I found myself excited and inspired, with a sort of mini-agenda forming in my head of places I wanted to go next. We ended up spinning the scraper (a mealtime tool prospective students will soon get to know quite well) in the center of the table, declaring that the person who it landed pointing towards should travel at least 500 miles from home in the next year, and the rest of the table would hold them accountable to do it. It’s the “just go!” energy that invigorates us and makes travel so inspiring. Tamothy better keep that promise!
The reason this event is significant is that one of the misconceptions I had when coming to Chewonki was that it was going to be self-absorbing. I thought I would come and be immersed in just the Chewonki experience of farm and nature and the Chewonki world. Enriching as that is, Chewonki is so much more. Chewonki is far from an isolating place; it’s a place that has broadened my view of world and set me off on a path of adventure and experience, just by meeting and talking with all the interesting people here. Mealtimes are the perfect illustration of that: we gather, draw in together by some unknown pull, and then disperse, enriched and enlightened and ready for the world.