Yesterday I learned a new Spanish word. Juntos. It means together. Together we
strolled down the stairs and started the day. Together we learned, we listened,
we breathed in the day. It is only day 2, our first full day, but I can already tell that
we will carry juntos with us throughout this week. For me, the most significant
aspect about community is each individual’s perspective on its meaning. For
a while now, we have been forming a community as a group of Santa Clara
students. The community we have started to build is as significant as the
community we are engaging with. As we value each other’s experiences, we also
get to feel the hurt, the small victories, the simple joys in life, and the hopeful light
that is in Boyle Heights. Together we signed up for this immersion trip…but we
may not necessarily have come from the same backgrounds and motivations. No
matter, the East LA community has brought us together.
Juntos. We heard juntos in the Dolores Mission Church’s youth group reading
of the gospel. We felt community in the tour of the Projects in Pico Gardens.
We met juntos with a short and spontaneous meeting with a man who used to
be involved in a gang and his family. We tasted juntos in the delicious Mexican
cuisine that the Underwings after school program’s fundraiser prepared so
freshly. It reminded me of family in Manila during Christmas when everybody
comes together in celebration of love, with the spirit of faith, and the truest sense
of family. It is only a week, and so I am a little afraid that no matter how much
we serve, how much we listen, how much we are present…it will not be enough.
At the end of a week, we will return to our own communities. I think the beauty
of our time here in Boyle Heights is its sincere openness, want, and hope for a
strong community. The trajectory to how we have arrived to today is so raw. So
worthy of our time. So giving. So full. So juntos.