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Until We See Each Other Again

Posted By in Expat Life, France, Volunteer Abroad | 0 comments

Until We See Each Other Again
I found it vaguely comical when, for our last week in St. Germier, June and Martin decided to send us to help their neighbours, Ros and John. The Kent’s home is usually full of Workawayers, but as the slow winter season sets in, the once numerous population of Workawayers in town has suddenly been reduced, making Brent and I a rare commodity. Thus, it would seem quite reasonable for June and Martin to lend us to the Kents for a few days, except for the fact the Searchfields had told us many times previously that they tend to banish their disappointing workawayers to the Kents. The more laissez-faire Kents provide the perfect Workawayer exile for the lazy and the irritating. Perhaps the Kents just really needed some extra help this week and it’s all a coincidence?
leaving FranceThe Kents have a much smaller home compared to the Searchfields. The inside is cluttered with an array of items, some of which are interesting and useful, and others which are strange and pointless. The outside is surrounded by the unfinished stone walls of smaller buildings, which they are determined to renovate and sell. Their motto is “never waste anything”, and with fierce pride they told us about filling cereal boxes with walnut shells to make firewood and about creating a greenhouse out of plastic lemonade bottles. It was hard to decide whether to be inspired by their inventive lifestyle or skeptical of their impassioned, yet banal, preaching about the corruption of “the system” and “the bankers.” We helped John move large chunks of stone from one end of the property to the other, in preparation for building a wall. When it rained, we went inside and used a food processor to shred several pounds of apples that they had scavenged over the past few months. We squeezed the shreds through an apple press, allowing the juice to run into large plastic buckets. Ros planned to add yeast to ferment the apple juice, and thus supply their friends and family with apple cider for the holiday season.

It was inevitable that this, our first Workaway experience, would be the one in which we suffered through the majority of our growing pains as we adjusted to this new lifestyle. There have been countless moments of frustration and doubt, but equal moments of joy and revelation. We are leaving France with new skills, greater strength and a better understanding of the nature of the workaway arrangement. I’ve come to realize that far more important than the actual work and tasks accomplished, is the discovery of what the host family seeks by bringing workawayers into their lives. Some hosts want company, others unpaid laborers, while others want a chance to mentor the younger generation. In order to have the best possible experience with each, we need to learn to place their agendas before our own, and thus open ourselves up to receiving whatever it is that they want to share with us. Our experience here has been a good one, yet I know that we will be able to use everything we have learned to create even more incredible experiences as we move forward.

leaving France

I’ve always liked the French expression for goodbye because “voir” means “to see” and therefore “au revoir” literally means something like “to the re-seeing”. This makes it seem less like you are saying “goodbye”, and more like saying “until we see each other again”. Au revoir France: Until we see each other again.

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