Reorientation and Reexamination

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:10

The 2015-16 class of first year YAVs at orientation in New York.

The 2015-16 class of first year YAVs at orientation in New York.

Before beginning our year as Young Adult Volunteers, we spent a week in Stony Point, NY for orientation. We learned so much and I won’t be able to put together words that will do the week justice. But here are 3 important lessons I learned:

  1. White privilege is real. Most of the Young Adult Volunteers come from families that did not struggle to get what we needed. If I wanted something growing up, I would ask for it, and my parents would usually get it for me. We were given many opportunities that many minorities did not, and in general, white people get treated better than people of different ethnicities. It’s a sad fact, but it is a fact. At Stony Point we learned that we can’t “fix” our privilege. Our society created white privilege many years ago and changing that will take many more years (if it’s ever changed at all). Whether or not white people like myself like it or support it, we benefit from white privilege.
The green area represents the privileged population; those society deems

The green area represents the privileged population; those society deems “good.” The orange area represents those on the outskirts and not as highly valued as those in the center. The dark spot represents YAVs; we will spend the year living among those on the borders, while realizing our own privilege.

2. We are not going out to “help” the underprivileged. Some people may go into a year of service thinking we are going to help people who are less privileged than us and bring them closer to being “like us.” But minorities, the homeless, and the poor do not necessarily need our help. They need allies. Young Adult Volunteers are sent out to work with the underprivileged to achieve social goals together.

3. This year is for me. This year is about being uncomfortable and learning to see the darkness and suffering in the world. Our experiences as Young Adult Volunteers this year are more about dramatically changing ourselves, rather than the whole world. We are not going to be able to bring about world peace this year, but we’ll gain awareness of the inequality and injustice in the world and work to make small changes. In doing so, we will become stronger and able to be better allies to those who need them.

This year is meant to be difficult. I will be changed by my experiences, and I am willing to embrace the possibility of challenges.

The first year New Orleans YAVs on the front steps of the Stony Point Center.

The first year New Orleans YAVs on the front steps of the Stony Point Center.

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4 thoughts on “Reorientation and Reexamination

  1. Mom says:

    Sounds like the training in New York was inspiring and eye-opening. Thanks for sharing – always great to see new pictures and to hear how the YAV experience is affecting your life. Love and miss you bunches.

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  2. Mom says:

    I just read this quote that I think goes with the theme of this blog post, so I wanted to share it with you:
    I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. – Edward Everett Hale

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  3. Linda Connolly says:

    I just read your post. Sounds like a great experience (one we could most likely ALL use). I hope you get a lot out of this year, make some lifelong friends and enjoy the experience. Love you….Grandma

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  4. Tracy Wehby says:

    I didn’t know you had another post on here. Sounds like your training has you all fired up for the year to come. I hope it’s a life changing experience (in a good way) for you!

    Like

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