Working this summer with DOOR has been a blessing that I never saw coming. I mean, I knew I’d have fun, I knew it’d be a great experience, but I didn’t expect to love what I was doing so much and to be so passionate about it.
Just a short month ago I was thinking about what a bummer this job would be, since I’d be out of town for all the festivities and such before everyone left for summer semester. Sure, there were plenty of parties and get-togethers in the time that I was working, and sure it’s wasn’t fun to see it all go down on social media, but there was really nowhere I’d rather be than Miami Shores, usually hanging out in the DOOR office.
Despite the fact that I worked almost every day from 6:30 in the morning and kept going (with the occasional office nap...oops) ’till around 9:30 or 10 pm at night, I loved every minute of it. From dealing with fussy leaders, to hearing the kids talk about their day (or about anything in general), it’s been a wonderful experience.
One of the best parts of this whole experience, however, was working with and meeting all the different DOOR staff and program participants. From Michelle, Danny, and Shinhye, to the rest of the YAVs, they’ve been so kind and so much fun to be with – I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Really, there’s rarely a boring time when I’m with them. They’re the type of people who are comfortable to be around when we’re making jokes, but also comfortable to be around in times of silence (that’s what happens when 3/4 of us are introverts). We’ve cooked ground beef together, navigated through tricky leaders’ meetings together, and (most of all... most often of all) eaten plantain chips together.
The time I have spent with them has been both life giving and empowering. The conversations we’ve had have pushed me out of my comfort zone, have made me aware of the privileges I do and don’t have, and have made me rethink the way I see myself and envision my future. From Michelle and Shinhye, I’ve come to view language and life in a new light. Their stories about their experiences arriving to the States and the struggles that came along with that move have made me more aware of my identity as a person of color, and have debunked my single story about those who are still picking up English as a second language. In Quinten, I’ve found someone who can relate to my nerves about moving to a place completely different than the place I’ve called home all my life. Going along with that, our book discussion pushed me out of my comfort zone to talk about race, a topic that leaves many uneasy; a topic that I admit to not having enough confidence and knowledge to speak up about. Through Natalie and Danny, I’ve found even more pride in my identity as a member of the PC(USA), and have questioned what else is out there that can help me further explore my faith. Because of Patrick, I’ve recognized the importance of diving head-first into things, whether it be initiating a conversation with someone new, or ordering your food in a language you don’t speak.
On a more personal note, my time as a Discerner really let me think and reflect about a lot of things, especially with the multitude of changes coming my way in the fall. The time apart from my parents was helpful (and healthy), something that will definitely help us in the process of me moving away from home. I’ve also had time to reflect about what I want to do next, and what my priorities really are. Through my time with DOOR, I’ve discerned (pun not intended) that there is a difference between doing something you love, and doing something you love that helps others.
All in all, it’s been a great ride. The conversations that I’ve had this summer and the dialogues I’ve heard are some of the best I’ve ever (and probably will ever) had. Everything has been a renewing, refreshing, and learning experience all wrapped up into one. Though my time with DOOR seemed to have started so quickly, and come to a close just as fast, the fact that I got to experience and live it was enough of a blessing.