Laughter. Silliness. Seriousness. Song. Questions. Excitement. Apprehension. Community. Just a few of the elements that have filled this past week . 7 long days; 7 beautiful days.
YAV Orientation took place at the Stony Point Conference Center in Stony Point, NY. A conference center of the PCUSA, Stony Point has some really great things going on. From their well-tended vegetable gardens to the three residential intentional communities (one Christian, one Jewish, and one Muslim—all committed to using the best of their faith traditions to promote nonviolence and peace), that call Stony Point home, it is truly a unique place. Not to mention the weather has been gorgeous, and I had no idea that NY is such a beautiful state.
Sixty-something other YAVs and I spent the week absorbing as much as possible to prepare for the upcoming year. We participated in helpful (albeit lengthy) information sessions/discussions surrounding topics such as community and conflict, culture shock, safety, discernment, globalization, gender issues, systems of injustice, race and power, etc.
Some further highlights of the week…
-Conversations with Cammy, Lindsey, and Ben (3 previous India YAVs), who so graciously put up with our barrage of questions and in the process made us all even more excited (if that’s possible) for the upcoming year
-Making new friends; learning what they’ll be doing; being excited for them and for each other.
-Reliving 10 minutes of childhood on a merry-go-round
-Learning that I will probably be riding an elephant at some point within the next week
For those of you who are wondering where I am at the moment (I’ve gotten several “where are you?!”s and “when are you actually leaving?!”s), I’m still at Stony Point. The India Crew is leaving here at 6:30PM—we fly out of JFK around 9:30. Our flight is direct to Mumbai (16 hours!!!), after which we will take a shorter, 2-hour flight to southern India. I’m not sure when we arrive. I don’t know what the time difference is. I don’t even know how to say “hello” in Malayalam. But I do know that Thomas John Achen (our site coordinator) will be there to greet us, and that is enough.
While it seemed—at the beginning, at least—that this week of orientation would never end, here it is: DEPARTURE DAY. While it is sad for most, I know, to say goodbye to new friends, I think we are ready. Ready to jump into this year of service; ready to embrace the known and unknown; ready see what God has in store for us in the next year and beyond.