Seeking Community In Bangladesh

“When we flew over Dhaka, a city so dense that it reminded me of a life-size version of Legoland, a tingling in my heart started.
Here I was, six thousand miles from home, about to step off the plane, knowing what to expect but also completely unaware of what would happen over the next three weeks. Even amidst the daunting population of people, overwhelming poverty, and intense smells and loud sounds, it’s the people and the relationships I had formed last year that were making my palms sweat and my heart pound with excitement.
Bangladesh will forever have a piece of my heart. Maybe it’s because they think I’m a local, maybe it’s because of the my little surf brothers that wait outside of our hotel from the crack of dawn until we’re ready to leave for breakfast, the quality of friendships I’ve made, or the cha (the delicious tea with condensed milk). But quite possibly it’s all of those reasons plus so many more. The biggest reason I would like to believe is because of the community. How beautiful it is to be able to love and to be loved, well… If I could say I learned anything in Bangladesh it would be knowing that I was apart of something…and that something taught me the meaning of true community.
Whether you’ve experienced community living (doing life alongside people in close proximity and heart) here at Surfing The Nations or in college or maybe somewhere else, you too know the immense love that can be found there. You know the realness of knowing that you’ll always have a friend to talk with, a shoulder to cry on, someone to open your jar of peanut butter when the lid is too tight, a neighbor to borrow eggs from when you forgot to buy them and real people who will encourage you, love you and push you to be who you were created to be. From the small and seemingly unimportant details to the big things that become defining moments, that’s where you’ll find yourself in the midst of community.
That being said, one of my favorite pastimes is breaking bread together…sitting down for a meal, everyone on the floor, huddled into one room with no AC, with at least ten different delicious bowls of food and everyone is together, eating with their hands, laughing and talking story. Those kind of moments give me that deep-sighing, fully in the moment, loving life, at peace kind of feeling that make me want to take a mental picture so that I can take it with me for the rest of my life. Those are the moments I live for, and the moments that bring us all together. No matter who you are and whether you speak the same language as the person sitting beside you, at that moment, you’re family. This is community.
I fully believe that this life wasn’t meant to lived alone…and Bangladesh is the perfect place to make you realize how true and perfect that statement really is. I’m more than grateful for the community that I have inherited and grown so fond of in Cox’s Bazar. These people are my friends, my family, my community and I can’t wait till the day we’re reunited. Because something tells me it’s going to feel a lot like coming home.”

Teka Gabaldon


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