by 2018 Global HERizons Scholarship Winner Islay Purcell
I began my global journey in 2018, moving to L’Arche in France to live and work with people different abilities, soaking in the wisdom and insight from Jean Vanier’s vision for an inclusive and loving society. My original plan was to stay for a year and then return back to New Brunswick to open an ability-inclusive teahouse in my community. While the teahouse idea certainly still remains one of the big dreams for my life, after a year at l’Arche, I strongly feel as if there is still unfinished business for me here in France at L’Arche d’Aigrefoin… And luckily I was offered a position of house leader in my house and accepted, and so have just finished my third week in this position, and plan to do this until the termination of my Visa this time next year! I live in the same house as last year with the same 8 personnes accueil, and a whole new team of strong young women from Germany and France.
I was very torn this spring when they offered me this position because I certainly initially had not considered to stay on a second year, but I began to realize that the moment I go home and begin such a project as the teahouse I will be settling down for quite some time. The time it will take to develop the idea and really make it happen will mean staying in my home community for several years before I would be able to head off again for another big adventure, and that is simply what my heart is craving at the moment! If anything, this year at l’Arche has shown me how many amazing places and people are out there awaiting me in our world beyond my small local network (although that is something I am trying to maintain even while abroad). I also realized this spring that I need more time to really, truly develop my relationships with the people I live with here.
So in short, I’m busy, busy learning to to fulfill all my new responsibilities, but at the end of each day feeling so content with where I’m at. And I am so pleased to have this opportunity to learn and grow in my role as a woman and community leader at l’Arche.