At home I used to sprint upstairs after dinner so my mom couldn’t ask me to wipe the table or unload the dishwasher, and then I’d get mad when she did. I had a lot to learn about community. Being a member of this little civilization means spending a lot of time cleaning up after ourselves and preparing for our future needs. It means really wanting to sleep through breakfast but getting out of bed to sweep floors. It means showing up to dish crew when all I want to do is flop on the couch and succumb to my food coma. But beyond the level of responsibilities and commitments comes a whole new level of thoughtfulness, like scraping my plate extra clean because I know it makes the job easier for the sprayer. I even found myself picking up paper towels from the floor of the Hilton because I use that bathroom and I care about it not being gross. That’s how it works here: we’re a self-sustaining community and we get out what we put in. And the key ingredient is finding joy in that. Whether it’s blasting music, trying to beat the record for the fastest dish crew, having a conversation with someone new or old, or enjoying how therapeutic a simple task can be, chores have become an opportunity instead of a burden. This is one of the most important lessons I’m taking home with me: that my family is its own community, and running away from chores doesn’t just mean that I’m not fulfilling my responsibilities, but also that I’m missing out on quality time with the people I love.
-Caroline, Newton South High School, MA