Wednesday, 3:24 p.m.
Bonjour, mes amies!
So much has transpired since the last time I updated you on my YAV journey that I’m not even sure where to begin. With that said, please bear with me as I attempt to organize my thoughts in this here blog. Anyone who knows me at least moderately well knows I like to enter into a situation with some skeleton of plan – that’s just what keeps me sane. So the fact that I am sitting here right now while literally making this up as I go along is a little bit stressful for me.
Voila! I think what I would like to do in this blog is take you all on a brief photo journey that highlights some of the most salient moments of my year thus far.
Pictured above are some of the communities I have had the opportunity to explore during my YAV year. The first picture you see here is of my wonderful roommates. I have learned so much about myself and others through living with these people. I know it seems like a cliche thing that people often say when presented with new experiences, but I really do mean it. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that when offering generous amounts of patience to others during difficult times, I shouldn’t forget about myself. Being a person that generally radiates sugar, spice, and everything nice to so many others around me often means that at the end of the day, I have none left for myself. I’m human, and I need love, support, and positive encouragement too. Now more than ever I am beginning to understand that everyone’s journey is different. And although the end goal might be the same, the paths we take to get there differ dramatically – and that’s perfectly okay. Comparison is the thief of joy.
The second picture is of the three women who make up the department of Multicultural Student Programs for the 2016-17 academic year. On the far right is Dr. Hylton, my on-site supervisor and long-time mentor. And to the far left is Amanda, who serves as a temporary staff member this year. Working with these women taught me how to be a team player and take instruction from others to accomplish goals in a fast-paced environment. From them I’ve also learned how to be more assertive (an ongoing journey), communicative, and . Something I never realized prior to my YAV year is that I have trouble asking for help. And I don’t mean that in the sense of I’m stubborn and will refuse to ask for help because I think I can do it all by myself but in the sense of I’m so accustomed to being the only person on my team and having no choice but to work through problems on my own. Lastly, I have come to accept self-care as more than a buzzword, which it very much feels like when you hear people going on about self-care this and self-care that yet seeing the same people stressed out and burnt out beyond belief.
Third up is a group of UNC Asheville folks – including myself – that participated in service work for MLK Day of Service this past January. What I am learning from them is how to strike a balance between friend and professional-ish. I’ll admit that it is a bit challenging sometimes to be so close in age to these humans while also asserting myself as an authoritative figure. More to come when I figure out the foolproof answer to this one…
Last but certainly not least are the beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, and energetic elementary school kids I have the pleasure of spending time with through the S.T.R.I.V.E. Mentoring Program. This group of kids is where the bulk of my time and energy goes as a YAV. I visit them on a weekly basis to bring fun activities that encourage cultural and career exploration, self-esteem building, and character development. If you know me, you also know how much I adore working with and getting to know children. My eyes are watering now just thinking about how wonderful they are! These cool kids have been teaching me a thing or two about patience (big surprise), being committed, spontaneity, and remembering to have fun and enjoy the little things in life. Believe it or not, they’re also a big help to my vocational discernment journey. I’ve always known that I wanted to have a career that involves working with kids, and this YAV experience has only helped to solidify that for me. In fact, it’s even motivating me to being persistent while searching for post-YAV year job opportunities. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with these kids!
It’s been real!