Essentially two things happened to me in 2014. I completed the Loretto Volunteer Program in Saint Louis/East Saint Louis and I began the Mercy Volunteer Program in Georgetown/Plaisance, Guyana. Although my year can be summarized into that sentence, there was so much more going on within the minutes and moments of 2014.
If 2013 was a year for detours, 2014 was a year for taking chances, which felt a little easier to do as I found myself on a different course than I would have planned to be on.
2014 was filled with new people and friends. I became closer with other volunteers in Saint Louis throughout the first half of the year, as well as with the staff and students at the school I was working at.
Beginning a new year in a volunteer corps offered the chance to meet a plethora of new faces and personalities who are now distributed throughout 10 cities in the United States. And, of course, now I’m in the process of creating new friendships with co-workers, students, residents, and my community members in Guyana. It was a year, like any other, for creating new relationships.
I let my job at STBCS in East Saint Louis get into my heart. I worked hard to be good at what I was hired to do, to go above and beyond what was expected of me, and to form meaningful, powerful relationships with the beautiful people around me.
Completing the Loretto Volunteer Program–it’s no easy task completing a year of volunteering. You have to live on hardly any money, be cordial and respectful to people you’ve committed to living with, and go out into the world everyday pretending you’re just like any other person on the street, when really, you’re living a completely different experience.
In 2014, I got brave and applied to live abroad. What I was thinking, I’ll never know, but here I am. I used my job from the first half of 2014 as a springboard into my new job in Guyana. 2014 was a year for taking teaching head on, even though I have very little teaching experience. It’s been a great ride.
This was a year for a little travel as well. In 2014, I got myself to a few new states and a new continent. Arkansas, Kansas, Tennessee, and South America are now crossed off my “travel list.” I also got myself to NYC a few times, Philadelphia, Denver, and Chicago twice. The first time to Chicago, I traveled all day to see Gabby Bernstein, who is an author I greatly respect and was very excited to hear speak.
Wise friends in both the Loretto Volunteer Program and Mercy Volunteer Program taught me to Keep the Core Tight and Keep the Hips Loose. These two things were originally said as jokes, but I’m applying them to how I live my life abroad. I think, together, they’re the perfect combination for a successful year abroad.
Finally, I think 2014 was year for continued heart opening. This process will undoubtedly continue in 2015. Working with this population of boys makes it impossible not to continuously be reevaluating just about every area of my life. For better or worse, they’ve worked their way into my heart. And here it goes…2015, I think I know where I’m headed, but I’ll take whatever comes my way.