I first came to Grangemockler in summer 2014

by Martin Mílek

It was during the summer break before my last year in high school and I was going to stay for two months. At that time I was already thinking about taking a gap year after graduating but I was not completely sure. I sympathised with the idea of going abroad and working in a social area as a volunteer before going to university, but  I was not certain if I manage to pull through a whole year. So I went for a two-month trial.

At that time, I was not the most courageous person and so Grangemockler was the choice number one. My brother had already been there three years before and a family friend had used to live there for a couple of years. So I had a rough idea what to expect.

I arrived on St. John’s day, the 24th June, late in the night. However, St. John’s, one of the four biggest holidays celebrated in Camphill (together with Christmas, Easter and St. Michael’s) has been celebrated on the 25th that year. (For some reason I do not remember anymore.) And so it came that my first day in the community was filled with barbecue, tiramisu and a huge bonfire. Quite an extraordinary welcome I must say.

What struck me most on the first day was the pleasant informal atmosphere that was around. I had known quite a lot about the ideology and the background of Camphill but I still was surprised how family-like it felt. I did not see a carer and a person in care but rather two people enjoying each other’s company on a sunny day. A harmony with a lot of acceptance and understanding. I could not help but be excited about becoming a part of it.

The beginning was not easy. Names, one does not know how to pronounce, people, one does not know how to approach, tasks, one does not know how to fulfil. And this all explained in a foreign language. But with a will to learn, courage to ask and an open heart a person settles in much faster than he had thought. It begins with the small things like knowing were to put the dishes after washing up, remembering who is going to the garden today or having a first full-fledged conversation with someone, and suddenly one realises that the community feels like a new home to him.

After two months, that had a bigger impact on my personality than three years of high school, it was time to say goodbye. I was not sure if I would come back, but I was certain I would take a gap year before my studies. Maybe in Grangemockler maybe somewhere else but I wanted to finish the process I had just started. The prosses of learning who I actually am and what I can bring to this world. Learning what my qualities are and what I still need to improve.

And so it came that on the 24th June 2015, the same day as the year before, I arrived on the bus stop in the Grangemockler village. This time I was going to stay in Camphill for nine months. My arrival was easier than the year before since I already knew a lot about this place, but there still were many things I needed to learn. I lived in a different house and worked with different people. The first weeks were about getting to know them. Learning their likes and dislikes, musts and mustn’ts. Understanding how each one thinks, how he/she communicates was the key for our successful co-living. It was not easy but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every single day in the community.

To sum it up I would say that Camphill is a place where memories and friendships have a huge impact on a human being. It is something which is hardly found somewhere else.

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