Rachel's Blog

Friday, April 28, 2006

Communities

I feel like a member of several diverse communities. I exist as a member of the community at Randolph Macon College, at my job at Essex Insurance, and in smaller communities such as a member of the RMC Chambers Singers, Jazz Vocal Singers, and Choir (all three distinctly different communities), as well as member of the community within my group of friends outside of college. All of these groups carry different weight, in that, some groups are more formal than others and the people that compose these different communities play different roles in my life and my role differs in association with these communities.
Randolph Macon, as a whole, acts as a more formal community for me. Since, I don’t live on campus, I spend most of my interaction there studying with others or taking classes with others. However, certain niches of communities through RMC provide me with an informal community. Through Chambers and Jazz Vocal, we work hard, but we all interact on more of a friend level. Most of us are ages’ 19-22 and have similar interests in a career path. We tend to get along really well even when we don’t want to. Many members are music majors or minors, but not all which makes the environment a comfortable one.
I joined the RMC choir a year ago because a member of this community told me I should, and that advice changed my life at Randolph Macon. Before I joined this community, I lacked the outlet to get to know very many people from the school on a more personal level. Now, I feel that I managed to make some incredible friendships, and I feel more in tune with the whole Randolph Macon community.
Another more formal community I joined about three years ago is "the world of insurance" at Essex Insurance Corporation. What I was thinking when I decided to join this community, I have no idea, except that I needed money desperately! This particular community troubles me more than any other. I hate and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word, the community of people that encompass that office. It acts as a festering ground for people with money to look down on those without it, and for people without money to pretend that they actually have it. Rarely, have I met a person in this community whom I consider an honest, sincerely kind, and interesting individual. Most of the people I connect with in this community have ulterior motives or wear two faces.
In this community, similar to many others, the members strive to get what they want at any cost and no matter who they must climb over to get it. It, being a promotion, a raise, or something as simple as a stapler that actually works. In this community, penis equals power, meaning that a man has a much better chance of being promoted or just coming into a position than a woman with the same qualifications. Not only that, a man, in an "equal" position to that of a woman, receives better pay. The "man’s world" mentality dominates many of these career-based communities, so this community simply provides the world with another example of that.
Finally, possibly my favorite community, embodies my community of friends outside of Randolph Macon. I joined this community when I was in high school, and therefore, have stayed a member for a long time. I met these friends through work and school, one in particular, my friend Jorge acts as a sort of social director for the whole community. Over the years this community has maintained its strong roots, which might come as a surprise when we consider how many highschool friends actually remain friends after they get out of highschool. A strange aspect about this community lies in its ethnic and interest diversity. Most of the members of this community are men. Jorge came to America from Brazil, as did Gago and Jonathan and his sister Stephanie. Mylik has a mixed ethnic heritage because his father comes from Panama and his mother is American. John, Kevin, Zoe, Erica and I all come from America, but a new member to our community, Maria "Maica" comes from Bolivia. One of our jokes we say when we have all of us hanging out at the same time is "all nationalities are represented in this room." This may be a quite large generalization, but most of the time the members of this community, listed above, bring other members into our community who come from different nations as well. Last weekend, Jorge’s apartment contained three Brazilians, one Panamanian/American, one Swiss, two Poles, and five Americans. The ethnic diversity of this community always provides a more interesting atmosphere and cultural feel.
One thing that holds this community together comes from our interest in going out downtown and having a good time. We drink and dance at Tobacco Company and Richbrau or go relax at places like Lucky Lounge or Element. Every Sunday we eat brunch at Sidewalk Café, on Main Street, and share pitchers of mimosas. The boys all play or watch soccer, an activity that enables our community to keep in contact and remain in tact. However, this community contains massive flaws and controversies.
As I said before, I am one of a few girls in this community of friends and problems in regard to gender relations occurs in our community on a regular basis. Most of the girls who hang out with us date one of the guys in this group. I dated a couple of these guys in the past and learned how difficult it is to remain friends with a group of guys if you decide to date any of them. One problem arises from the fact that guys tend to gossip, a characteristic mostly associated with women, but that goes both ways. When your friends find out what you are like on a girlfriend level their feelings may change toward you. Two of the consequences that I experienced include; one: a friend might develop more than friend feeling for you, and two: a friend might not want to be friends with you based on what information he learns from his friend. This all seems confusing, and trust me, it is.
The communities that I shared above all contain their pros and cons, but for the most part, they are communities I chose to be a member of for good reason. I decided to enroll in Randolph Macon because I loved the campus, my fellow students, and the faculty. I chose to join RMC choir, chambers, and jazz vocal because I love to sing and the friends I made through these different groups will be lifelong friendships. I chose to join Essex Insurance because I needed money and my mom works there so she sort of pressured me into it, and I chose to join my group of highschool friends because we have fun together and enjoy many of the same activities. Yet I face controversy in all of these communities as well.
At Randolph Macon, I struggle with commuting and because I live at home in Richmond, I have a difficult time meeting new people and having the ability to just show up for a study group or work on a project any time. Choir takes up a lot of my time, and causes me to have to rearrange my schedule for performances. I already spoke about the controversies I face at Essex Insurance, no need to go through that rant again. Finally, I face conflict in my group of friends just by being a girl surrounded by boys all of the time. These are boys who act vulgar in front of me constantly, which I am used to because of my two older brothers. We also face drama when friends within the group date each other and especially when those relationships don’t exactly work out. Yet over all, I enjoy my role in each of these communities and hope to gain experience and knowledge from interactions in each one.

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