So much has happened recently! From June 16th-29th I was in New York attending YASC Orientation, where I was able to reconnect with my fellow YASCers and participate in two weeks of cross-cultural training. I consider myself very privileged to have met each one of the YASCers from this year, as each has touched my life in some form and taught me something new about service and faith.
Here, in no particular order, are some photos from training:
Sign at the Stony Point Center
Julie and Keri skip rocks near the monastery
A window at the Eldridge St. Synagogue in Chinatown
Joseph, Maurice, Rachel, Emily, Claire, Julie, and myself at the Church Center in NY
Team Hong Kong! Katie, Grace, me, and Will. You'll probably be hearing a lot about this group, as Katie, Grace, and I will be living together in Hong Kong. Will will be across the city, but we'll see him often!
A Russian restaurant in Brooklyn during "finding your way in NYC"
Bishop Katherine at 815
Bishop Katherine, graciously posing with her fans
As you can probably guess, orientation was filled with many adventures, lessons, and moments of reflection. We spent a good deal of time discussing cross-cultural issues, practicing shifting our frameworks to better understand the communities in which we will be serving, and preparing to tell our own stories as we enter into a new context. In addition, we spent time at a monastery, participated in a tour of a variety of religious houses of worship, met with the staff of the Episcopal Church Center, including the Presiding Bishop, and learned about the history of Anglican Mission.
More importantly, we learned about the challenges of being a cultural "other" and about the dangers of a single story. While I will always be an outsider to Hong Kong culture, I will hopefully be able to seek out the multiple, interlocking stories of the people whom I am serving. This is one of my goals during my year abroad, and I aim to communicate those stories with people at home as well. Finally, we received the advice to "just go and be" with our new communities, and the rest will work itself out. This one may be my biggest challenge, as I am more inclined to want more defined goals and expectations of myself and others.
Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing to fundraise and preparing to move abroad for a year. On July 21st, I will be speaking at my new church home, St. Paul's in Albany, GA. I have set a date of departure of August 20th, which is rapidly approaching! It won't be long now!