By Niklas Steinke
I arrive in the dark. Midnight has just been over. The driver shows me the room, the key ready in the lock. Arriving at Richmond Vale after a 21 hrs journey, which made me cross the Atlantic and took me to a different continent felt just great. Nevertheless, I had no orientation at all. I only saw some of the buildings, lightened in the dark. I did neither know how many buildings were there nor what was in them. After some minutes the driver left and vanished into the dark.
Nobody. How will it look tomorrow, in the light? Who will be there? How will my life be like during the next six months? I could only guess.
After a long sleep, I finally woke up at my new home. Everything was different to the night before. The abandoned buildings of the past night were alive with people and noise.
After I got to know the first amount of people, I was shown around the site. I was led into the fruit forest, the organic garden, and through all the buildings. Suddenly I did not only know some of the people I would be living with during the next months, but I also got more and more orientation, having seen the beautiful environment of Richmond Vale.
Besides the geographical orientation, I need to get some knowledge of the daily routine, since I could not imagine how a day at RVA would look like. But even this issue was easily as it was part of the site tour to present me all the daily activities to me. Consequently already at noon I got to know the majority of the place, felt warmly welcome by many nice people and at least roughly knew what I should expect to happen during the next days.
But the most important part of the arrival was still to come: Getting to know the people I would be sharing my life with.
After the formal introductions, I immediately became part of the group’s common actions: laughing, discussing, playing games and of course: working. Fortunately, it could not be easier: everyone so open and willing to make me a part of the group that it did not take long until I felt to be integrate.
Besides the common activity in the group, the shared life at RVA is the major means to get to know everyone.
Frankly spoken it brings you even closer to people than common work. When living together you do not only have to organize your life together regardless of any cultural difference, but you are also automatically confronted with different cultural habits and thus might find yourself talking about your backgrounds. You see people all day, eat with them three times a day, relax and work with them.
Spending my first days like this, preparing the food, washing the dishes, organizing our activities and working with the group turned the abandoned and unknown place I found on the night of my arrival, into a warm, vivid and lovable place, full of wonderful people – a place I was now looking forward to staying at.