Monday, September 19, 2011

OH! The Places You'll...Stay?

By: Kate Niemer, former Jesuit Volunteer Corps member
I started my JVC time with phrases  from the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the places you’ll go” popping frequently in my head. The sing-song rhyme had me think about the adventure that brought me to do a year of volunteer service through Jesuit Volunteer Corps. 
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
And now I find myself thinking… “Oh the places I will STAY?” Who knew, certainly not me, that this girl from Milwaukee, WI would stay in a place that had only been home for a year… to continue the adventure at my agency… but this time as an employee!
So I find myself, in the same place that I started (a year and a month ago)… yet SO MANY things are different. I have moved away from living in a volunteer community. Yet I still feel the four values (simple living, community, social justice and spirituality) as strong as before.

I often giggle to myself as I think about the past year in which my community of six wonderful women chose to “live simply.” Since the year ended… do we now “live complicated?”

With some things more complicated and some things simpler,  I thought I would share some thoughts on the values as I reflect upon “the place I stay.”
Simple Living- Yes, having a salary does change simple living. I feel blessed and excited about starting the month with more than $100 to my name. But having more doesn’t mean that I don’t get the same excitement out of little purchases or luxuries... I still want to soak up experience such as dining out or investing in my free time.
Community- I miss my community immensely. It was so wonderful to come home to a group of women doing such diverse things with incredible passions… but I have been fortunate to feel “community “ live on and have found it in new places such as… new friends/roommates, the growing staff at Cristo Rey Jesuit and in my new art classroom. I’ve found that community can come in many forms.
Social Justice- In many ways, Social Justice has been the easiest to continue because it was a value that I feel calls so many to do a year of service. Since a passion for a socially just world has been ingrained in me, it my no means has departed despite the year’s end.  
Spirituality- In many ways, this has been the greatest struggle for me since leaving JVC. They say “service without reflection risks irrelevance.”  Yet, I find myself struggling to make time for myself, to think, to reflect and to pray.
My adventure continues, despite my  knew sing-song rhyme.. “Oh, the places I’ll Stay!”
Kate attended Boston College and graduated with a B.S in Biology. She was a member of JVC South in Houston, TX and live in the Sister Helen Prejean house. Her placement site was Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory of Houston where she continued on staff as the Program Coordinator of the Corporate Work-Study Program and the Art Teacher.