By J. Paola Gomez Garzon, Spain
I never thought that at the age of 28 I would live the best New Year’s eve of my life.
31st of December 2018, it was three month and 9 days since I arrived to a very special place in the north of England, CICD (College for International Co-operation and Development). Leaving a life of comfort behind, I enlisted to a life changing project to Africa. Everything starts at CICD living in a community, getting to meet new people, new stories and new experiences and sharing mine with them too. So far the Gaia period is being a school of life for me, where hard situations give me the best lessons. Now I am looking forward to get to the Development Instructor period in February, to engage with even more experiences full of learning.
The party’s topic was “Hippie Flower Power”. When I finished the tasks of the day, I got back to the college and start preparing my costume. We met in one of our mate’s room and did our make up and dressed up. In the mean time, some other people were in the kitchen team, cooking for the night. For dinner we had veggie risotto, tortellini, veggie soup, salads, fry vegetables, salmon, burgers and many deserts such as tiramisu, white chocolate cake and lemon meringue. Everything was very delicious. While all of that was being cooked, another team was decorating the dining hall and preparing activities for the night. At around 7 in the Facebook group they call everyone for dinner.
There were games and activities after dinner – the first one was a theatre play made in groups. My group had a play called ‘Sand and Stone’, an Arabic tale which let us with a good message. We have also ‘a date in Samarra’, ‘the dog and the wolf’, ‘the tow donkeys’ and the last one was perform by 7 volunteers who improvised while the “author” narrated it. It was a load of fun, we really had a laugh!
The second one was a game; I would call it ‘guess the song’. The aim was to guess songs of the 60’s. It was such a competitive fun. While we played, people from different parts of the world were getting calls and happy New Year’s wishes, while other waited until the day after to get it from the home country.
The third activity was a very special one to me personally. We each got a Mandala, a paper with circle with different fields for the aspects of our general life. We had to draw something that represents our goals in each aspect and keep it until midnight.
Then we went out to receive the New Year at 12 o’clock - just like everyone in the world but in our time. We got grapes like in Spain and a non-alcoholic sparkling drink; at the school we have the rule of non-alcohol and non-drugs use; so we unlike the rest of the world, receive our new year with all our senses alert and happy to be living every single moment of this special night. Also unlike the rest of the world, we did not have fireworks, but we had a bonfire outside where we all burned our mandalas as a sign of detachment. The bonfire hesitated to get started, but in the end it caught fire. We each had the 12 grapes and the sparkling drink, we cheered for the New Year and also hug each other.
Suddenly I realised I was here with these people around the bonfire; speaking, laughing and keeping warm. There were no nostalgia, sadness or needs; I did not miss anyone and anything. I then realised how happy I was, I realised that I didn’t need anything more than what was there. I felt my soul quiet, in silence and my heart full!
It was all out of the ordinary world. I realise that, I am not my values, I am not my traditions, I am not my country, I am not my typical music, I am not what society once told me I have to be in Christmas time and in any other time of the year. I realised that I am simply a free human being, I am love and that is everything I need.
For the rest of the night we danced around the fire to the rhythm of a variety of percussion instruments. We allowed our beat to flow; we let it express itself with the music until the night end magically when the fire went out. It was a unique way to start the year.
I wish you all a wonderful 2019.