Since JVC Orientation…

3 Sep

It has been about a month since my time at Boston College for my Jesuit Volunteer Orientation. And although I haven’t been blogging, I have been preparing for my departure to Nicaragua in December.

Therefore, I’ve decided that my next series of posts will focus on things that I’m thinking and learning about…


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.

The Start of the Journey

7 Jul

Well, I have officially set up my blog (no thanks to my computer skills, but to my friend Sarah Mitus, who is the social media guru) for when I will be gone in Nicaragua and to chronicle my time before I leave.  I am hoping that this will serve as a way for my family and friends to know about my Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) journey and my experience serving in Nicaragua.

That being said, I would like to take the opportunity to set the scene of where I am at currently.  This past May, which now seems like ages ago, I graduated from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and obtained Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Gender & Women’s studies with a Concentration in Peace & Justice studies and Minor in Spanish.

Although those areas of study may seem pretty random to some, for me, they have been vital stepping stones for accumulating knowledge of our current society’s systematic inequality (at the intersections of race, class, and gender) and concrete solutions for a more just world.  Therefore, because of my interest in International Development with a focus on gender inequality, my coursework has provided me the opportunity to expand my understanding of the world.  

The first step in my journey to gain greater understanding of inequality has been to accept my admittance to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to serve in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua for two years.  I will be living  with 4 other Jesuit Volunteers (JVs) guided by the values of Community, Social Justice, Spirituality, and Simple Living, while working at Pajarito Azul, a residence home for people who are mentally and physically disabled, as the program Activities and Therapy Coordinator.  However, I will not be leaving on this journey until early December…

This brings me to my next step before I leave for Nicaragua…Washington, D.C.!!  I am currently interning at the Center of Concern, a research analysis non-profit, in their Global Women’s Project for the summer. This internship has been a great experience, which has enabled me to understand more about non-profit life, international development, and research on public policy and women’s issues.  Much of my work has focused on understanding the current “care crisis.”  Now, many of you might be wondering what this is, but I’m sure that each has been aware of its effects.  The care crisis occurs from the current and ever present tension of the work-life/family conflict.  I have researched and written papers on such topics as the need for paid sick and paternal leave, the International Labour Organization’s adoption of decent working standards for domestic workers, the Supreme Court Ruling on Wal-Mart, the need to raise the debt ceiling, the current American Time-Use Survey, and the feminization of poverty that is reinforced by the migration patterns of domestic women workers into “global care chains.” It has been a pretty exhausting internship, but like I mentioned previously, a great step towards connecting my plans for after Nicaragua…not to mention time to explore one of the nation’s most exciting and politically aware cities!