Born in Trosly-Breuil, the birthplace of L’Arche, Alban has had close ties to his local Community since childhood. However, after a self-proclaimed “never-ending teenage crisis”, he was determined to seek out a life that bore no resemblance to his childhood in his hometown. His subsequent decision to move to Manchester and to L’Arche was something even he never anticipated.

"I was born in Trosly-Breuil, where my parents were both L’Arche assistants, and so since my early childhood I had close ties to the local L’Arche Community. This did not make L’Arche more attractive to me when I was eighteen years old and struggling with a never-ending teenage crisis. Before I left for Manchester, I had spent several years trying to break free from anything that could possibly remind me of my childhood and the place I grew up in; L’Arche was one of these things. Yet a confused need for change made me look for alternatives to my hedonistic but static lifestyle. I had become bored with the world in which I was trying to integrate. It was no deep desire, but a mixture of coincidence and proclivity that made me land in Manchester on the 3rd September 2014.

a confused need for change made me look for alternatives to my hedonistic but static lifestyle. I had become bored with the world in which I was trying to integrate.

I’ve made most of the important decisions in my life in a rather impulsive way. I tend to let myself drift through time and space and see where it leads me. I had no expectations whatsoever regarding Manchester or L’Arche; Manchester is no sunny island, and I knew that the weather would be tough. I acted according to my desire for change and jumped into the unknown.

When I arrived in the community, my first desire was to pack my stuff and to fly back to France. I spent the first three months complaining loudly and calling all my relatives to find support; they told me to wait a couple of months. After four weeks, I started to write critically about the life I had in France. I joined the local gym and started to go there every day. The Community leadership was understanding and helpful. People got used to me and I got used to them.

I realized that routine is the backbone of life and that good routines can lead to long-term inner peace. I replaced a complex and disorderly lifestyle with a simple and structured one.

I learned how to enjoy routine, which I thought I hated. I realized that routine is the backbone of life and that good routines can lead to long-term inner peace. I replaced a complex and disorderly lifestyle with a simple and structured one. I understood that a simple lifestyle tends to lead to higher sensitivity and, ultimately, to higher doses of fun in life. Epicurus had known this principle thousands of years before I discovered it – he was right.

I had spent a lot of time trying to conform to the world. L’Arche expected little conformity from me. It gave me space to accept and to develop the basics of my personality. This was the beginning of a long journey, and although the struggle is never over, I know that it is L’Arche Manchester that got the machine running again.

Alban, Nem and Nia 

I left Manchester one month after I had planned. I grew so accustomed to it that I didn’t really want to leave. The summer after my year in Manchester was one of the most beautiful periods of my life. I reconnected with old friends, with whom I had lost contact for years. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment and happiness.

After I left L’Arche, I studied political science in Belgium. I developed my relationship to my girlfriend and I learnt German. I worked hard for exams and celebrated after each success. I slowly developed my personality and started to hitch-hike through Europe with a tent. I moved to Berlin and then I moved to Lebanon, where I have roots. I worked in journalism. I then moved to Leipzig, where I am now, to study my master’s.

L’Arche was the place where I could start developing myself again at a time when I was threatened by immobility. I started believing in myself again.

All of these experiences have been meaningful to me and shaped who I am, but looking back, I realise that the movement in which I currently find myself really started at L'Arche. Of course, I had gone through great times before it and I’ve been through awful times since, but for some reason my life had somehow become static in the years preceding my time as an assistant. A sort of spiritual stalemate, if you like. L’Arche was the place where I could start developing myself again at a time when I was threatened by immobility. I started believing in myself again.

My experience really allowed be to become more of an individual. I somehow had to make peace with every element of my childhood. L’Arche was one of them, just like Lebanon or the United Kingdom. I realised that I could never become someone else and that I had to get accustomed to the person that I am - just like you get accustomed to a L’Arche routine. Even one made up of baked beans and boogie night discos"

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