My placement site continues to be as usual. I have definitely grown into the routine of seeing certain clients on a regular basis. I feel I will miss them a lot when my time at LEVN comes to an end. For some of them, I worry they will miss me too much actually. LEVN and all internships are an interesting time for individuals. Clients become attached to the intern, whether you want to them or not, and they feel sadness when you leave. I feel slightly awkward when they mention past LEVNs at work. We are not allowed to talk about past employees or their future. However, I also feel awkward not just because of this inability to update clients on what past LEVNs are doing now, but also that I will be one of those people in as little as two weeks. One client in particular I know will be affected by me leaving. Another two clients have been very rebellious towards me lately due to them having to move out of their unit soon and they’ve been skipping on my appointments. That’s okay though, as they are beloved by God. Even if they piss me off when they skip an appointment I made with them…thrice.
When individuals reach the end of their LEVN year, they will definitely feel ready for a little bit of a break. While I was fortunate to have a job guaranteed by May of this year, many of the other housemates are still searching for what they want to do after their service year. It will be an interesting time for them. My biggest recommendation for anyone who reads these blogs is to definitely start your job search early. I started in December in fact (many of the programs I became interested in that allow you to travel overseas and pay you a decent size paycheck have deadlines in mid to late winter). I had initially been interested in joining another religious based service year program that sends you abroad. Needless to say, the programs asked individuals to raise over two thousand dollars. I thought that was rather ridiculous because you most other secular programs or Catholic school programs, you could pay for only the plane ticket and get a much larger stipend where you would not be in poverty. This is just my mindset however. Volunteer work is inherently classist. I am not sure why anyone would want to be in poverty in a foreign country, that sounds rather awful.
I have definitely tried to improve my Spanish while I still have time. I am extremely nervous about trying to find an apartment in Spain, but I have already found that the rentals there are far cheaper than in the United States. I will also have all my paperwork by Monday to send off to the consulate. I will be trying to find a way to get my visa sooner than later, so that is a bit of an anxiety builder.
One major expectation that has changed while in LEVN was what intentional community meant. I quickly realized that I was the only one who, outside of those placed in churches, went to church. It was a bit hard to accept at first, I had expected everyone to go to church simply because the program was religious based. I feel like the program is much more social justice oriented rather than religious at times. Of course, officially the program is both, however, in practice it’s a bit harder to tell at times on an every day basis. Of course, I have decided to live for only me this year, and I wanted to make this a religious experience. I go to church regularly, I am a lector for the church, and I try to talk to the priests at the Episcopal Church whenever I can. I’ve gone to a monastery with one of the housemates, I went to spiritual direction, and I have gone to confession. In the end, I made it as best I could.
I won’t miss cooking dinners on Mondays and Sundays. It’s rather flustering trying to remember the days people do cook. I would definitely recommend keeping a calendar handy if anyone is joining this program. You must remember your work schedule, your personal appointments, LEVN blog due dates, and LEVN dinner days. It may not seem like a lot at first, but it really does start to add up. A blog is a few days late here and there, someone forgets they are cooking a dinner every now and then, and by God you’re getting told to get your act together at your next monthly check-in.
Over all, it’s been a good experience. I definitely would do it again if I could. As for another year in the Episcopal Service Corps, I don’t think I could do it. I feel like the Episcopal Service Corps for most people (with a few exceptions), can be done only once.