Even thought I've only been in training for a few days, I already feel a small world away. This is mostly because a majority of the world has been brought to MCC this week. In my training, I'm joined with 60 other SALT-ers, as well as young adults from other countries--either serving abroad or in North America through two other MCC service-based programs. When all of us (about 80 total) are together in a room, it's as if a mini United Nations has been plopped into tiny Akron, PA. Along with valuable MCC-led workshops and orientation sessions, I've learned multiple handshakes from Zimbabwe, songs in Swahili, Chinese recipes and how to sing the colors of the Brazilian flag in Portuguese. I often feel socially overwhelmed from the expansive catalog of names, faces and placements that I've just jammed into my head, but it has been wonderful meeting the people here. We've laughed about melanin, teased about accents and marveled in variance. Never before in my experiences have the joys and challenges of diversity been so apparent in one situation.
This multiculturalism is represented in our living arrangements as well. We all live on or near the MCC headquarters campus, where there are five "houses" that represent different continents and regions. I'm living in the Africa house, but I really feel as though I'm living in a fair trade Ten Thousand Villages store (http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/). From furniture to bedspreads, common African heritage and art forms are represented. These organic-feeling houses even have washers, calming the fears that I'll be hand-washing my clothes while in training!
A common theme of this orientation, besides multinationalism, is an acculturation to MCC and who we are within the organization. Being at the MCC headquarters is such a dream come true for me, and I feel so honored to be so graciously welcomed into the MCC family. We've matched the key MCC values of peace, development and relief with our own, and I'm deeply comforted in remembering that this is exactly when and where I'm supposed to be. I'm reminded of why I love MCC and it's work, as well as how perfectly my position is set to compliment and enhance my past experiences. I'm realizing just how colorful the world really is in all of its beauty and complexity, and I'm thrilled to be able to taste, smell, see, hear and feel the interconnectivity of all who are here and what this community represents.