Well, I suppose another adventure has begun! I just barely had enough time to recover from camp before getting back on my feet to head to Washington, DC! I’ll be spending the next year here as a volunteer through Lutheran Volunteer Corps. (To learn more about the basics, check out the FAQ page.) In all honesty, I was quite nervous to make this move. I’m not really sure why…I’ve done a lot of adventurous things in my day… but for some reason, moving to an unfamiliar place, living with unfamiliar people, and working a job that I really know nothing about is a little scary.
Monday morning, bright and early, I carpooled up to DC with Matt Smith – another volunteer that I know from a crowd of Lenoir-Rhyne friends. Somehow, my parents, Matt, myself, and all of our stuff for the year was able to fit in my dad’s Toyota Avalon. Shocking, I know. We were some of the first people to arrive on the scene – Luther Place Memorial Church. This was our registration site and location for much of orientation. In addition, this is where I’ll be working all year! It was exciting to start getting an idea of what I’m in for.
Now at this point, I could go through the week and give you exact details of each day of orientation… but I’m not sure you want to read all that. So instead, I’ll try to summarize, making sure to discuss the things that interested me most!
First of all, 106 volunteers gathered in DC for orientation. Only 17 of those 106 are staying in DC for the year; the others will be spread out all around the country. So each morning, after gathering for announcements, we would congregate into our city groups for a little discussion time with our city coordinator. DC’s city coordinator, Charles, is quite a man. I’ll leave it at that. Each day, we had different sessions and workshops based around the three tenets of LVC: intentional community, social justice, and simplicity/sustainability. We even received a tote bag with the tenets screened onto them! Some sessions were better than others, and by the end of the week, we all felt quite tired of lecture-style “workshops”.
Everyone’s favorite workshop, however, was a 6-hour session on Personal Safety and Applied Non-Violence. It was led by Marty, a lady from DC that could kick your ass. Seriously… she could. It was slightly disturbing to spend the day talking about what to do if you’re mugged, assaulted, or harassed, but she somehow made it so pleasant that we continued talking about it for the rest of the week! We began the session by making a list of those people that we often treat as though they’re invisible – janitors, homeless, immigrants, mothers with small kids, obese people, those of another race, etc…the list could go on forever. Then Marty told us that the first step to feeling safe is to befriend and respect those people. She said we need to get to know the people in our neighborhood, including the homeless people. After all, those people living on the streets would be the ones most likely to see an assault and could be the ones to save your life. Then, we talked about an observation circle. Marty said we need to know who’s around us within a 10ft radius as we walk down the street. More specifically, we need to know at least three details about each person (scars, tattoos, and watches are good ones). This awareness will keep you alert and also help you to identify a person later, if an attack were to happen. We were also told we need to take a tour of our neighborhoods and figure out where dead ends are as well as what areas have the most lighting and what times of day. All of these things seem like common sense, but I had never really put much thought into it before! Six hours later, we had sharpened our Aikido moves and increased our confidence…prepared to walk the streets of any big city!
Every evening of orientation, we had a short worship service/reflection on the theme of the day. I ended up playing piano for them all week…an exciting way for me to share my gifts with the community! It was fun to feel like an asset to the group.
It has taken many days for our house to start feeling united. WE ARE THE DIETRICH BONHOEFFER HOUSE…WE REPRESENT!, we yelled at our first gathering. That’s right, the name of our house is – for short – the Bon House. It is comprised of 6 girls, all 2008 college graduates. The house itself is sweet…I’ve heard rumors that it’s the best house of them all! (You can check out pictures and more explanations on the Bon House Page.) Those of us living in the house are pretty sweet too, I’d say. Still, throughout orientation, we had one of the Baltimore houses crashing at our place. Yesterday, our final commissioning and send-off, was an exciting new step for us. We were finally on our own and able to fully move into our rooms! Work starts on Wednesday, and I think we’re ready. We’ve assigned chores, who’s cooking each night, designated a bi-weekly pee in a bucket day (more on that later), and even had a house meeting in a kiddy pool that we put up on our roof deck. If that’s not preparation, I don’t know what is. Any questions about what’s going on over here? Leave me a comment and I’ll blog about it! I can’t write everything…so give me a lead on what I should write…