Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A World Dance

Our latest blog post comes from Dominican Volunteer Niki Klco. Niki serves as a teacher at St. Francis Center, an organization that serves immigrant children and adults in Redwood City California.
Thank you for your service, Nikki!

It is glorious to feel free! I’m telling you this because San Francisco and Redwood City offer freedom. The Bay Area is lovely, but the people here create the freedom. For all of my adult life I have strived for such feelings as celebratory normalcy. To me, this is such that each and every moment is both typical and joyous. I have yearned to know such confidence and independence. I believe deep down I knew I was capable of interacting with the world in this way… for why else would I have strived so hard and with such determination toward it? What I reference is not simply one issue: my anxiety, confidence, self-esteem, but rather myself as a whole. I am a new person. I am uncontrolled by fear. I have taken back my life and found the continual joy that seemed to only be able to be seen before at certain times.

How? Why? A mixture of circumstances and personalities have come together to mold me and strengthen my spirit. I live with a family here. We are non-traditional by most standards as we have 2 Sisters, 2 ladies, and 2 dogs. All of us are equally valuable. We love and serve independently, but also through the vision of community. For with our relationship there is no community. These relationships are what have taught me about myself and allowed me to see the love deeper and remember how it is always around. They have given me the strength to break free. From with whom I live and teach – to whom I coach with – individuals with drive, independence, advocacy, passion, and leadership. I have become one of them. What I’ve always wanted!

Amidst the deep-rooted trials of this world I am motivated to see the can-do. The value shines through every person I meet. WE are humanity. Together- we must function – together. I am not a typically philosophical person. However, the beauty of the past days has enabled me to write in this manner. Nothing that I have experienced stands out specifically, rather life in all forms.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Life Changing Experience

Dominican Volunteer Josie Umuhoza serves as a teacher at the Opening Word, a literacy and job readiness Center for immigrant women in New York. Thank you for your service, Josie!

Josie and her students.

An empowered woman is inspirational, a motivator and a mentor; she impacts so many people around her in a positive way. This is exactly what I have encountered in the Opening Word. I remember two weeks before taking this journey, I was confused, nervous but excited at the same time. I kind of knew what I was getting myself into because I am always ready to step out of my comfort zone-especially when it involves helping those who are in need.  In August of last year, I said goodbye to my friends and family and headed to Long Island for 11 months. I had no idea what to expect but have faith and put everything in God’s hands; all shall go well. However, despite all the anxiety and fear, I said to myself that I was going to be just fine.
I was changing my lifestyle, things now might not be allowed or I may not be able to do them, but just be open minded. If I only knew how amazing and wonderful this experience is, I would not have been so worried.

This service program thus far, has taught me how to live in a community with 4 sisters. My community living is no different from my family living, in my regular family, I help my parents to do chores, same thing goes with the community, and all members split the work. I have so much fun mopping the hall ways every Saturday and cooking once or twice a week. I have movie/TV shows nights, eating ice cream or cookies every day, talk about Politics, justice issues.

I strengthen my faith by praying together with my community. Every day, at 7:15AM, we gather in the chapel to pray; listen to a song, read the gospel and finally preach by reflecting on the scripture. Once a month, I have spiritual direction; this will help so much in terms of getting closer to God and also finding out what it is that God wants you to do or become in life.

Every month, read and reflect on one of Dominic’s preaching methods with your community. I am able to ask as many questions as you want because I live with religious people who know everything related to that. I am also working with an amazing staff, the best boss on earth and incredible students. My women/students are from all over the world, women who are eager to learn.

I enjoy talking about all of the different cultures. I am changing their lives but most importantly they are changing mine. In the Opening Word, I have room to grow spiritually, emotionally, and professionally. My boss is very understanding and flexible. I have become good friends with the women. Finally, it has brought me the greatest joy, knowing that I put a smile on another person’s face especially a woman. Women supporting women.