My first 45 days at CICD!

Jose-banner-_20240309-182840_1 Jose enjoying time with his team at CICD!

By José Becerra, Gaia Team

I arrived to CICD one month and a half ago. Has this period been long? Has it been short? Why or how?
Forty five days sounds like the first half of a long football match; each day a minute. It is a perfect moment to look back and enjoy. As an old vinyl record, this article will have an A-side and B-side.

The A-side

Occasionally I would like to pause my life, so time won’t continue absorbing me towards the road of death. Perhaps it is a very tricky formulation, but I suppose many people feel the same: “Life is going speedy, I want to go slower”, “Time is running faster than before”, “You are rejuvenated, please tell me the secret”.
Contrary to what Philip Fry or the sleeping beauty live in their fiction worlds, time cannot be paused in reality. But, I have good news: we can change our perception on it, to feel that it is going slower. How is that? By changing routines. If every single day we do exactly the same, our memory won’t take the activities as relevant and won’t retain them. For example: it is very hard for me to remember what I ate five days ago.
But if we radically change for a time what we do, the new experiences will transform our perception of each practice, but also the places (space) and moments (time) where and when we develop them. The action can be as small as changing the mean and route we use to go to work, or as big and meaningful as coming to study in a new country (England) to volunteer in another one (in Africa or in the Caribbean). Perhaps this can be meaningful for you too.
This principle (“travel more, live more”; or “travel more, live slower”) comes from a conversation that I had in other volunteer experience near to Cali (Colombia) with a girl from Bogotá. She told us: “I went to Argentina by land, the whole trip was a year; but now that I remember it, I feel it was around five years”. Trips and deep projects change what we usually do and can expand time in wonderful ways.

Jose with his partner Angela on a bike-trip in the beautiful East Yorkshire

Jose with his partner Angela on a bike-trip in the beautiful East Yorkshire

Magical moment around the bon fire with new friends

Magical moment around the bon fire with new friends

Practical action in the Building Weekend, cutting fire wood

Practical action in the Building Weekend, cutting fire wood

The B-side

My month and a half in CICD has been lived as a Gaia student, with my responsibility area in the Promotion office to raise my scholarship for studying and engaging in a project as volunteer. My goal is to have a dialogue with people who are interested in our programmes and objectives.
The first weeks were wonderful because all was new for me: the campus with long paths towards dormitories, garden, gym and entrance; the weather almost arriving to snow; the sounds of the wind moving the leafless trees; the use of heating and hot water that is not common in the cities I lived before; the quantity of doors (for avoiding fires) that I must open to go to the toilet or the exit, as a long corridor, as an opening-closing labyrinth…
Now, I got an adaptation to the college schedules. One hour for cleaning after breakfast ( and two if it is Monday and study day) - brunch at eleven on Sundays, with the exception of building weekends - bonfire with friends below the full moon and the stars…

But, as I am in a place and weather, in a community and a set of traditions that are very different to the ones which are common in my own land, life keeps being different and time continues going slow. I am not talking about a boring slowness of tedious efforts (like bank queues), but about the amplitude of time to enjoy each action deeper, each conversation, and each apprenticeship… The magnificent and wise slowness of the tortoise.
Here we have structured schedules for days, weeks and months, but they do not coincide with what we use to do at home. Now, imagine that into the big experience there are new windows to continue transforming time perception. It is like a big labyrinth with others smaller inside. This figure is to illustrate that coming to England can make your life flows slower, but also into the whole sequence there is the trip to Africa. It will be completely different to the first step: other place, people, routine, and activities: another continent.

Sometimes the passage of time has been surprisingly fast. For instance, when shopping for new food and cleaning products arrive (every Wednesday) or when I return to the gym for a specific routine, I feel the week really ran. But, in general terms, I feel a kind of expansion of time in this experience, as a whole, as a cycle of solidarity, teamwork and growth.
Some days, when the day at the office is boring, due to the excessive information available in social media, the hours are long. In contrast, when we are travelling the time is not enough to visit each street, museum or monument. Moreover, in the memory the events look memorable. I have been in York, Flamborough and Liverpool due to open weekends or Sunday trips. I can remember many details of those trips.
With these examples you can understand how time looks well-used for me during this period, flowing with an astonishing rhythm. 

It explains why I am so excited for going to Africa even if this is now March and my trip be only in July. I want to continue playing this phonograph record with new landscapes, people, trips, and books.
I like this way to feel time and space, and all they both have inside. I want that the whole championship be as emotive as the first half of this match that is going on!

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Saturday, 15 June 2024