JVC Orientation

3 Aug

This past Monday, August 1st, I concluded my two week JVC orientation at Boston College.  At orientation, I met the 25 other first-year JVs who will be in 6 countries around the world from 2011-2013, FJVs (Former Jesuit Volunteers), JVC Staff, and 16 Rostro de Cristo volunteers who will be volunteering in Duran, Ecuador and collaborated with us for orientation since we have very similar programs.

Orientation was absolutely amazing and provided the foundational tools for a successful and transformative volunteer experience.  With workshops focusing on the mission of JVC, spirituality (Ignatian spirituality to be more precise), cross-culture preparation, self-care habits, teaching, social work, counseling, our budgets (which will include our personal stipend of our  respective country’s equivalent to US $60.00/month in addition to various communal funds), health care plan, Catholic Social Thought, how to live and build community and much, much more…  I finished each day feeling like I had just grasped a greater understanding of myself and how I will be living for the next two years, which is a good feeling to have!

However, orientation was not just a time to sit in workshops, it was also a time to hang out with the other class of 2011 volunteers and to begin developing authentic community, as is foundational to the program.  It was a time to share many things: emotions (especially as some of the volunteers had already said goodbye to family and friends because they were leaving for their respective countries (i.e. Belize or Micronesia) right after orientation ended), packing techniques, a bit about who we are, and of course, laughter.  But we also shared the happiness and ease that comes when surrounded by people who understand, instinctively, why we want to volunteer–which was in itself, quite a blessing.

Lastly, one of my favorite aspects of orientation was the silent retreat that we had at the end of the two weeks.  When you first read this, you might think…silent retreat, sounds awful! (I know I can say that I was more than hesitant).  But, (as I mentioned previously, it turned out to be my favorite part of orientation) it was a weekend to relax, process the information from orientation, and communicate to people and God in new ways.  I was able to gain better understanding of my need of self-care and how I will utilize the experience of orientation to best prepare for when I leave for Nicaragua   in order to be a better community-mate, volunteer at Pajarito Azul (my worksite placement), and person.

All in all, I can say with ease that I found myself, God, and a renewed sense of commitment to a program I fell in love with many years ago.

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