Water: The Great Equalizer
Last week we had a long-term volunteer outing! This means that the 14 adults and 4 children, from different countries, ages, life-experiences, cultures, and economic backgrounds who manage Sadhana Forest, spent a relaxing day together. We went to a local pool and spent 2 hours swimming, laughing, diving, floating, eating watermelon, balancing on top of each other, taking slow-motion underwater-camera movies, and chatting against the wall. Everyone had a great time and it reminded me of how water is a great equalizer. It creates a shared space by it’s acting upon you in a defined space. There is automatically something always happening to talk about, laugh about, and share.
Throughout the afternoon I noticed volunteers talking and playing together who hadn’t spoken, maybe ever. It was exhilarating to think that something as simple as being in a pool on a hot summer day could ignite new possibilities, new friendships.
When I became the Project Director of Sadhana Forest I set a goal to create more of a community-feeling. We, the long term volunteers, work so hard and rarely get to spend time together, get to know each other outside of working, and chill. I began planning more outings like visiting a quarry or pool, taking a tour of the local botanical gardens, having a “creative” afternoon of music and art. These have been the events, much like the water, that created a shared experience to learn and grow from. These are the times when it has felt like we’ve really bonded as a long-term volunteer team.
Recently, while taking a weekend trip to Mamallapuram, a local beach town, I came observed local families swimming side by side with foreign tourists. I found the same to be true in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the slum kids swam and played right next to and sometimes with the tourists. Economics were swept away as we all crashed into the waves. We laughed as we shared this similar experience. We had a moment. Thank you, water, you great equalizer you.