YAV Orientation at Stony Point, NY: Aug. 24-30
Flight to Los Angeles, CA: Aug. 31
As the day is approaching when I will step onto an airplane destined for Los Angeles, CA, I can’t help but remember the same time almost exactly two years ago I boarded a plane headed to Coleraine, Northern Ireland for my semester abroad. My trepidation was much larger for that first trip, and understandably so. I had never been away from home for more than 2 months, and definitely not as far away as Northern Ireland. But I did it! I survived! And I came out on the other side with friends from all over the world, an appreciation for Guinness, and the realization that backpacking through European cities on weekends is more educational than anything I learn from a book.
I can only hope that this journey will turn out to be equally as spectacular. I’ve never been to California and I am excited to learn the streets of Los Angeles, see the Pacific Ocean and feel the sunshine an average of 292 days a year! But along with that, I am also excited to do something different by working with the homeless people of the city. I spent 2 years of my college career competing on the speech and debate team. One persuasion speech I gave was about how many cities in the U.S. are criminalizing homelessness. It makes it very difficult to break the cycle of poverty when a person can be arrested for living outside. I am hopeful that I can be involved in some discussions on policy regarding how the homeless are treated in the city. I am also looking forward to being on the front lines of this issue, forming real relationships with people I might be able to help. I want to be able to give them access to health or legal services rather than feeling like my $2 is all I can do.
Another part of life in Hollywood I am excited about is the house. La Casa de la Comunidad, or the House of the Community, is the place I shall call home for the next year. I have been told it is in the center of a Latino neighborhood where families and children sometimes come for meals and games. The pictures on Facebook of the children singing and reading there make me very happy and I can’t wait to get to know them!
Some of you reading this might not know that much about me, but after this year of service I will be attending medical school at Marshall University. As of now, I hope to become a pediatrician, hence why I am excited about getting to know the children in the neighborhood! But even if I decide to change my specialty somewhere along the way, I hope that I will always be the kind of doctor that takes time to know her patients and care about their lives. I don’t want to be rich or famous in the medical world. I want to take this year and set my life on a track of service to others. That way when I am struggling to see the light at the end of some marathon study session, maybe the faces of my Hollywood friends will remind me why I need to keep going. God has blessed me with so many talents and abilities. I cannot live my life keeping them to myself!
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10