What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Community Day

Today was our first community day so I thought I would share with y'all what exactly we did on this first one. First, a bit of explanation is in order. The YAV program is very committed to the idea of intentional community so for that reason each site arranges a day when all of that site's YAVs don't work at their placements and instead have a day with each other which can include any number of things based on the site coordinator's discretion. For Chicago, our community days will be spent learning about the city and the many problems and issues that face it. Today, we had a visit from the Life Directions group which is an organization that works with local youth in the schools here and provides mentoring and tutoring services for them to help them stay in school and figure out what is next for them on their journey through life. We talked a lot about what youth in our own neighborhoods worried about and such and where they got their sense of support from and their personal beliefs. I think all of us had the same basic items written down. I, being from a rich, white, conservative suburban area talked about how many of my friends and neighbors worried about getting into the right college and feeling pressured to get the right grades to get into the perfect college because that would lead to the right job which would lead to true happiness or fulfillment or riches or something to that effect. There was a lot of emphasis on the family and many of my friends and neighbors had close, extended families that heavily influenced their lives and such. In doing this exercise, I really saw the disconnect present at least from my perspective. Many of the youth in our neighborhood here in Chicago don't have those same issues. They have to worry about supporting their families and surviving the Chicago Public School System which is not the safest or best environment. College for many of them is a lofty goal and something they are encouraged to try for but more practical matters tend to supercede. I think that really illustrates a major difference between the classes. The rich tend to focus on careers while the poor tend to focus on survival.
We also talked a bit about our own values and belief systems and where we developed them and what helps us sustain them in spite of everything going against us maintaining those values. All in all, we had a rather interesting discussion on these topics and it proved to be a worthwhile exercise. We later spent some time visiting with our site coordinator about Mayor Richard Daley and the fallout from him announcing that he won't be running for re-election. For those of you who don't know, Mayor Daley has served as mayor of Chicago for over 20 years and his father served another 20+ years before him so the Daleys are considered a political dynasty in the city. However, there are many who have accused the mayor of corruption and having mob ties. The legacy of his mayoral term depends on who you ask. Many people will say that he has done a lot of great things for the city of Chicago while others will argue that he has been bad for the city and they are ready to see him go. One thing is for certain and that is that an era is about to end here in Chicago and we are going to be here to witness it personally. It's weird to think that we are going to witness the end of an era and the beginning of a new one over the next few months. It's hard to believe that Daley has been mayor since I was in kindergarten. That means that if I had been born and raised in Chicago that I would literally have no memory of anyone else ever serving as mayor. In fact, I would say that is the case for many Chicago residents as the Daleys combined served as mayor for 42 of the last 50 years. As you can imagine, the political scene here is about to get crazy as lots of mayoral candidates will now be coming out of the woodwork for their chance to be mayor of one of the largest cities in the world. It's an exciting time to be here and I am glad that we get the chance to witness history in the making.
We ended our day by having dinner with the Mennonite Voluntary Service group. These are like YAVs only through the Mennonite Church instead of the Presbyterian Church. They were all really nice and the dinner was great. It was good to have dinner with other people who are experiencing the same kinds of things we are. It's good to know we are not the only ones here who are crazy enough to do this kind of thing for the next year of our life. It's reassuring, to say the least!!
Well, I think that is about all I have to tell today. We also spent part of today cleaning house because when six people live together, things tend to get dirty really fast!! Have to go back to work at our sites tomorrow. Tuesdays are my long days as I will be attending the Young Adult Bible Study on Tuesday nights so I work 1 -9 to make that work. It will make for a long but hopefully fulfilling day!! I must get to bed in order to prep for that long work day tomorrow. Remember, Jesus loves you (and I do too)!!

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