In Search of Welcome: Personal Update

May 5, 2010

It is the first week of May. After a Mennonite Volunteer Service retreat to the mountains this past weekend I am undeniably aware that I am now 2/3 of the way complete with my year of service. In ways I am relieved. I am excited for next year, to make money, work part time, and officially enter the post-collegiate “real world”. In other ways I am sad. To leave Baltimore means to move away from people, places, and memories that have managed to creep into my heart and become rather dear to me throughout the past eight months. It is hard to believe I have been here eight months already.  As I examine my personal learning and the growth that I have seen take place in my life while living in Baltimore, I am excited for the person that I get to be in September, and the ways my life might look different as this year is complete.

I came to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service knowing very little about what my time would be like this year. My knowledge on Lutherans, immigration, and refugee services was, needless to say, less then abundant. As I began to work and engage with my colleagues and communities, I found that it did not take long before these three words became integral pieces of my everyday thought and conversations.

My personal interactions with the stories of immigrants and refugees have been entirely transforming. The significance of story is something that has always been dear to my heart, but this year, in a whole new way. I continue to learn not only the significance, but the preciousness of individual and person experience. The boldness and courage that I have seen exhibited in the heart of each person that I have gotten to meet, interview, and photograph for my project this year continues to humble and inspire me. As I begin to look forward and see little pieces of what my future might hold beyond this year of volunteering, I remain excited for my last 4 months here in Baltimore and with LIRS. As I continue to meet and interview people I continue to see a fuller picture of this world. What a joy this is.

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