We've been, our group of 13, in San Fransisco for 4 nights. We've painted meeting spaces for Larkin St. Youth Services and cooked a meal for 60. We hauled a house's worth of sheetrock into a newly-framed Habitat for Humanity Home (and up the stairs) and painted a good portion of its outside. And we shoveled two truckloads of dirt for a new urban garden in Oakland on behalf Welcome Ministries (after destroying an ivy-covered fence to allow the dirt-truck access).
We've survived 2 massive walks to and from the supermarket. And each of our four sub-groups has planned, prepared and executed an admirable dinner.
Our backs and legs are tired. We've laughed and joked and complained together, and played a few too-intense games of Catch Phrase. The service work has been good, tiring, and generally rewarding, with much more to come. Our group reflection sessions have been fruitful and well-led by our student teams.
Far more significant for me, though, are the moments together we occasionally miss during the chaos and business of the Dartmouth term. Arguing about universal morals on the BART ride to Oakland. Searching every market in the Tenderloin in search of suitable bread for Shabbat (a baguette from the Vietnamese bakery was the closest we could come, but it surely beat the all-pervasive loaves of Wonder Bread). Talking about Aristotle and Jay-Z as we walk to and from our service sites. Finding meals suitable for picky eaters of all kinds. Debating the nuances of white vs. orange Cheeze Its.
These are the things that don't show up in grant reports. And they're easily forgotten as we plan for tight budgets. And I too sometimes forget them when dealing with the inevitable exhaustion of the start of the spring term. But we are simply together. Engaged in common work, and the mundane details of daily lives. Growing as a group. Learning and struggling together. And it is profound.