Published: September 3rd 2010September 3rd 2010
The bizarre aspect about coming down to Texas is the periodic and reoccurring reminder that I’ve come down here for a year. This is not college. Not a place where investment occurs individually; but rather, through, within, and with a community.
We are 4 in total. Two are from Michigan: circa Detroit. The other: Pennsylvania. The Michiganders are engaged. The young man from Penn is young: 18. All of us are at distinct points in our lives. We all have come into this program with different motivations and goals.
David has just graduated Reddington High School, in Reddington, PA. Born in Guatemala, his parents are former Mennonite missionaries. I was sick of the whole school thing, he said. I want to go on to college, and will begin to write those essays soon. But, toward the end of my senior year, it just wasn’t fun for me any more. He’ll take the year to decide.
Stephanie and Daniel are 20 and 22 respectively. Stephanie entered the army but never made it past basic: a back injury got her discharged. To me, it sounds like it worked out better in the end. Daniel proposed a few months after she got back to Michigan. Daniel has been working two minimum wage jobs for the past two years. He has taken several classes at local colleges, but has never found something that really strikes him.
I feel old.
And a bit out of place
for coming into this with motivations other than taking a year off. I have come to further what I’ve been learning and studying for the past 4 years; to soak in the 7th largest city in the US; to experience a new culture and living experience.
At the YAV orientation this frame of mind was common. To be white, middle class and passionate was the norm. Granted, my roommates are all white, middle class and passionate. But it is the final category that takes on a new meaning and gives new motivations for the next year. I have no massive or shattering thoughts for this blog—simply reflections on a new life in community.
For the past week and a half I have been orientating my life around orientation: For the YAV program and then for the San Antonio site. I have met so many new people, so many good people, so many people who care and love a community and a church.
The house that we are living in is nice. A bright yellow, it is hard to miss as you are driving down our street. This is a funny thought for me: To say “mine” next to house, street, or neighborhood. I have a backyard.
Church members, staff of the YAV program, and the previous year’s YAVs, have welcomed us. Kaley and Lauren are two of the three YAVs last year. Their look at life is explorative. It is refreshing to see those who have just excited what we are about to begin. They are confident in the program’s ability to push an individual. I have enjoyed having them here: They will be here for the year, and I look forward to getting to know them more.
Last night, we ate dinner at a local church member’s house. As we all sat on the dark wood floors, and watched the babies crawl around, over, in-between us (we are welcomed primarily by young families), I felt that this new community was extremely welcoming. Either that, or I’ve become very good at small talk, at laughing at bad jokes (and making them too!), and at asking questions in times of silence. Not to fill the space, but because I realize that these new contacts hold the key to new and better experiences in San Antonio.
The night grew late, and I began to soak in the rich dinner and heavy atmosphere. The incandescent bulbs gained a warmth that yellow and homey-colored shades can’t attribute. I felt comfortable; I felt a sense of community.
--Looking toward the next couple of days of orientation: We have more tours around the city, church on Sunday, a dinner with the Catholic Workers, Jesuit Volunteers and Mennonite Volunteer groups around town, and then on Tuesday I begin work. I'm excited about meeting more young people. I've already found that Kaley wants to learn Arabic, which is a major goal of mine in the upcoming years. She might have a contact. Also an Ultimate group may be available. There is basketball at the Church on Tuesday evenings, and my job will give me the option of attending conferences led by philosophers, economists and theologians. More to follow on my work, but quickly: I am excited beyond words: the structure, framework, methodology and tasks of work hit at community development in the most accurate and effective way.