Direct quote from my journal on September 6, 2007:
“I have no idea what this year has in store. What role I will be playing as the service literacy provider at St. Vincent de Paul Village. What role I will play in my community and what person I will become from the experience I am about to embark upon.”
This was after the 10 day orientation with my fellow AV’s, a few days of sharing the sunny city of San Diego with my community and about 4 days of working at The Village. A common emotion that is tagged onto the beginning of an experience such as this one. I knew who I was as a person, or did I? I knew that I would learn, grow and change, but have I? In a previous blog written by one of my fellow AV’s and a good friend, I share a feeling with her by saying, how can being taken away from the most comfortable situation in the world and being placed in the most uncomfortable situation not change you?
Last night my community and I had a discussion about the service we are doing this year. Answering questions like at what point during this year were we able to step out of our comfort zone? Or, Had we at all? What lessons would we take as we move on with our lives when this year is over? While trying to hold back the emotions of imagining the small family we had created being separated, I tried to grasp onto the reality of this discussion. At what point did I step out of my comfort zone, if I had at all, and what would I take from this year? Here is what I came up with…
Direct quote from my journal October 5, 2007:
“Today was a hard day to stomach. It was my first staff day which consisted of the usual review of policies and procedures, an ice breaker activity, essentially to keep everyone’s attention, and then a nice lunch out with my co-workers where I was treated for all my hard work. (All my hard work which didn’t seem like much other than cutting out shapes for PACTT night and attempting to put together activities for the preschoolers which they didn’t even pay attention to) After lunch, Jayne (my boss) told me we would be having a meeting with the child psychologist. Interesting… Well, it was. At this meeting I was informed of all the struggles, the children I had been working with for the past month, either are facing or have faced in their lives. How do you stomach that the little girl you just taught to count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s was once molested by her stepfather. Or the twins who are the cutest little boys in the world were being neglected, undernourished and possibly abused. Today was a hard day, but there is one thing I learned. I learned that I can no longer be scared to help these kids. They are not intimidating. They need all the love they can get. I was given so much love, I know how to spread that. That is what I need to do. Give them everything. Give them what’s in my heart. And that is what I plan to do.”
I think this was the day that I stepped out of my comfort zone. Some may say that it took a long time. Looking back, I ask myself why it took that long. But I think all things happen for a reason. If you ask any of my roommates or family how I handled that day, they will all say the same thing. “It was a hard day”. But it was a day that I will always remember. A day that I wouldn’t have been able to get through without the love and support from my family and community. It was the day I learned my role as not only a teacher, but a friend, a shoulder, an ear, a hug or just a smile. I vowed from that day on to spend the rest of my time at the village in the baby room or with the toddlers, preschool and school-aged kids as much as I could. I can honestly say that I have fulfilled that promise and I will until the day I leave.
After spending the last 9 months in San Diego with Becky, Dan, Elizabeth, Jesse and Joanna, 5 people who started off as complete strangers, but who I now call family. Working in an environment that I, at first, felt weary walking around the premises but now feel comfortable to walk the 2 miles to and from work, and loving the kids that I had vowed I would do, I can certainly say I have grown as a person. While I have grown and changed over the course of the past 9 months, I still carry many of the same values I arrived here with. My roommates were able to provide me with a more diverse perspective on so many issues. Perspectives that I am so grateful to have seen. No other time or place will I be given the opportunity to have the experience that I have had this year, and I sure that I would not have wanted it any other way.
San Diego, CA 2007-2008