Community and belonging for me means, a place I feel that I belong and a place where I can be accepted for who I am. It's been hard to integrate into some communities. Often, being the only person color in a community has been difficult at times.We enter and leave communities as we older. Some communities change for the greater good and others change not for the greater good. I belong to different communities. My background and life experiences have influenced who I've become and the things I've been interested in. I've entered new ones while I've left others. Some communities I can come back and be able to jump right in right where I left off. There are communities where it was only during a certain period of my life and might be harder to be in now. There are communities where I've had to leave because it no longer followed who I was as a person or it wasn't good for me. Some became dangerous in their vission
I'd like to talk about community and belonging in these three (3) situations or places.
- Being a Multilingual
- Being a Student in France
I'd like to write about these topics in this carnival but I'd like to take make a dedicated post with a slightly different approach.
- Being Mexican and American
- Growing up in Nebraska
Here in the United States, it's not common for people to speak another language. Which is a shame. Growing up in a small town in Nebraska, it often seemed that it was few of us who would consistently speak another language. Even at a young age, I felt we had a small unintentional community. I was very fortunate to grow up bilingual - Spanish & English (in this order). Then I learned French in my teens.
Being a multilingual here in the United States has allowed me to be join new communities. With the amount of people who don't speak at least a second language on a constant basis, it almost feels exclusive to be multilingual. It allows me to have deeper connections with others. It allows me to belong in various communities. When I was living in Omaha, One example is attending French speaking events at Alliance Française and on Meet-Up. It was so amazing that I could find so many individuals who I can speak French with and share many of the world views. It was nice to meet so many francophiles and francophones who enjoyed sharing culture, language, cuisine, wine and so much more. I would become great friends with these individuals. Now that I live far away, I know if I were to visit or move back, I could rejoin this community. Going back to a place where I'm a visitor and one I am familiar with, I know I can find a place of belonging again.
Growing up in a place that lacked lingual diversity, or to simply put it - growing up in a very vanilla place, it also seemed that there was a community that didn't seem to like people speaking different languages. It seemed to alienate them. There seemed to be pressure to join the community where one needed to behave and present themselves with the majority. I know people who had my cultural background give into that community and not speak their language spoken at home. Parents gave in the idea that there kids will be more valuable in society if they don't speak another language. I felt supported and limited by these co-existing communities. I'd be lying if at one point I didn't fall in this negative community. I felt at times I needed this negative community to to belong. Learning to belong to something that conflict with my values felt like being pulled in both directions.
Being a Student in France
I have very fond memories of being an exchange student in France. I studied at the Université de Strasbourg at the age 22. Being a student in France was different compared the attending university in the United States. Being in University you build Not only was I apart of the exchange student community but I was also a student trying to improve my French abilities. I was the only student from the university back home who attended a program in France. I isolated myself the Americans. In a way I left the "American" community for many months. I saw this as a blessing to form new habits and quickly find a new community or communities. We were here to learn the French language. We all were from various parts of the world. I was hanging out with all the people and students from France, the rest of the European Union, South America, and basically anyone from around the world. Just not the Americans
We were homesick. We bonded with food. We made meals from our respective cultures. We would learn about their upbringing and how they got to France. We all bonded together because many of us had experiences with immigrant culture. Many of these students were also immigrants to France or have been in the European Union already. They were trying establish themselves and incorporate themselves in the society. Seeing them everyday reminded me of my parents telling me stories of them trying to make their way in the United States. I understand being in a new place and trying to find a sense of belonging can be daunting.
Yes, I could do many of these things back at my home university. There was such a deeper connection with these international students. We were living and studying in a place where being a student meant so much more. I felt I could have genuine conversations with people. I really felt like I belonged here and understand what it's like to be student outside the United States. Student community here is nothing like in the United States.
Oh the IndieWeb! I joined back in March 2023. I heard of the IndieWeb throughout the years but didn't think much of it. I'm happy that I got the interest and courage to join. This is a community that I am truly happy to have found. It has become a community I truly feel that I am apart of. The best part of it is getting to meet so many great people and interacting with them on a weekly basis. People are so willing to help each other out. I've had people reach out if there is something wrong with my website or microformats are not placed correctly. It's been pretty rad attending Homebrew Website Club. Every single one of them has been pretty amazing. I really enjoy the encouragement of taking initiative to as planning events, starting writing carnivals, etc. It's a pretty open group.
The IndieWeb has helped me grow as an individual. It has also rekindled the fire in things I didn't think I would find interest again. One example of that is blogging. It This community has helped me find a new place of belonging.
I will admit since I'm still relatively new to the community, I'm still a little shy and still learning the ropes. I know that this is part of the journey.
I'm happy with all these experiences.