My first year as a Young Adult Volunteer has changed me. It has changed the way I view people of color and how I see my own whiteness and privilege. Before this year I was blind and deaf to the struggle that has been going on around me and I feel like I woke up and now I can see the injustice all around the country and I want to fight it. It was lead to relationships with all of my housemates that I hope will last a lifetime. My YAV year has also caused me to grow. I have grown in my knowledge of the problems facing us. Like social justice, world hunger, and human rights. I have learned about myself in ways I couldn’t fathom before this year. When we started talking about the enneagram, a personality test that I highly recommend, I thought it was crazy and that I couldn’t be put into a box like that. A week later I am reading some papers about type Nine personalities and it could have been my life story. I now understand more about myself then I thought I could, like how I shape myself into each group, how I run full speed away from conflict, and many other things. This YAV year has pushed me in so many ways. It has pushed me to sit in the uncomfortable. It has pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone and then just kept going dragging me along behind it. It has pushed me to confront things about myself and my relationships that I would have rather not. But mostly this YAV year has pushed me to grow up. Living with six strangers in a completely new state and having no connections to anyone there is harder then it sounds. I love my community now, but living here in New Orleans has caused me grow up. I now cook, work two jobs, clean, do my own laundry, and I am not responsible to anyone but myself and my housemates. That has pushed me in ways I haven’t been pushed before and it is a good feeling.
The YAV program was everything that I was hoping for when I started looking at mission programs last year, and after actually doing the program I can say that it is was what I was hoping for. I wanted to go to a completely new place and learn about the culture and the people who lived there and I got that. New Orleans in an amazing city with a rich cultural full of life and happiness that is also full of darkness and pain. New Orleans is a city of duality. New Orleans is Mardi Gras, good food, better music, and life. New Orleans is gun violence, mass incarceration, highest homeless ratio in the country, and death. The city and people here have taught me a lot about myself and my faith. I wanted to grow in my faith and my understanding of God and his path for me. I wanted to live in intentional Christian community and see what that was like and though some days are harder than others it has been an incredible time. I want to change more. I want to grow more. I want to be pushed more. I want to go to a new city and explore. Not just explore the city, but explore the people and the culture that makes each place unique. That is why I applied for a second year as a YAV.
That is why I am so thrilled to announce that I am definitely going to be doing a second YAV, Young Adult Volunteer, year!!! I am going to be living and serving in the Big Apple, New York!!! I am so excited for this coming year. I don’t know exactly what I am going to be doing next year, but I am hoping to working with the homeless. I will be living in the Manhattan in the Upper West Side on the border of Harlem and Morning Side Heights. Right now I will be living with two other volunteers, one other guy and one girl, but that is subject to grow as we get closer to September. I will be starting my fundraising soon and I want to thank everyone who donated and Bayside Presbyterian Church for the money that they donated so I could go on this amazing adventure. I will be sending more information out soon about how to donate this year as it will be a little different than last year. I also want to apologize for not keeping up with my blog. It is one of the things I hope to better at as this year continues and to keep it going into next year. I have learned so much this year and I am hoping to learn and grow more in my second YAV year.