Friday, 1 September 2017

Arrival at the Dandelion Community / Dante

On Monday, August 28th, I arrived at the Dandelion Community.  I made the trip with Dante, my fellow Dandelion Community volunteer, Solger and Jiwon, who are in charge of us at MCC, and Hyeonjeong, who volunteered with MCC in California last year.  We drove from Chuncheon in the Northern part of South Korea to the Dandelion Community in the South.  This took about 5 hours.

With the exception of Hyeonjeong, who I met briefly last Fall in Abbotsford, these are people, who, in actual fact, I had met not more than a week and half before.  Yet I love them all very much indeed, and was happy to spend time together, including a night playing “truth or dare,” before they left in the middle of the next morning.

On the way to the Dandelion Community from our house in the morning

As I read over the first part of Rebekah Puddington’s blog again, I noticed many points of contact between our experiences.  Now I too know what the chicken barns here look like: modest structures covered by chicken wires with metal siding for a roof and face, and surrounded by an abundance of greenery.  I also now know what it is like to collect and pack eggs, something I too was well-prepared for with my previous work (in my case at Brian Ens’ chicken farm).  Now I also have concentrated to pick out words from the Korean language being spoken all around me.

A view of the Dandelion Community in the evening

But in one respect, my time has been quite different than previous SALTers.  In years past, SALTers have joined life in the Dandelion Community as the lone newcomer.   By contrast, my first few days at Dandelion have included the regular presence of Dante, another MCC volunteer (the title is YAMENer) from Indonesia.

In some important ways, Dante and I are similar.  We are both Christians interested in theology and committed to working for peace, and are both trying to give our best here at Dandelion.

In other ways, we are different.  I am an academic and a forestry worker, and he is a comedian (he has actually done a tour around Indonesia) and a youth pastor (his comedy tour was part of a movement for peace among Indonesian youth).  Hailing from a small town and the forests of British Columbia, I enjoy the remoteness and occasional silences at Dandelion.  Coming from Jacarta, one of the most populous and busy cities in the world, Dante misses the ability to find a shop nearby and seems to me to enjoy the more stimulating times.

In a down moment, Dante is more likely to start doing magic tricks for kids playing nearby, while I am more likely to open my copy of English Grammar for Today to prepare for teaching English.  We are different, but, I think, in ways that complement each other and hopefully benefit the community.

Dante won some "herb socks" -- yes, that's right, socks that smell like, and are presumably made of, herbs -- at a game we played with the students in the park.

I am very thankful to have had Dante with me as we have faced challenges together this first week.  At the same time, we are beginning to realize that coming here together means we have to be intentional about talking to other members of the community and to students.

There is, of course, more I could write.  In a future post, I’ll say more about what we have actually been doing, and also about meeting Dr. Kim, the founder of the community, who arrived last night.



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