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Sporadic, but precious memories.

As I’ve had some time now since the end of the fellowship, I’ve been really able to process the journey as a whole. Really, putting it into words is not easy. Therefore, excuse me if this blog entry is a bit all over the place.

I am really missing home- home as in Alameda Point and West Oakland. I’m honestly itching to go back ASAP and eat what I loved to eat, visit the places I loved to visit, and just be there. Fully.

The fellowship officially ended on Sunday, and I flew out to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on Monday morning. I’ve been here at Casa de Los Angeles for about 9 days, and I leave tomorrow. I feel lucky that Micah paved the way for me to be able to return to Casa, it’s just another reason, on top of the endless many, as to why Micah was a true blessing. Being in constant service these past 2 months, and more, has been tiring and a challenge, but so incredibly eye-opening, humbling, healing, liberating, and rewarding! I am happy this is what my summer consisted of.

I really appreciated my last day at PJC. Dr. Burns’ huge smile as I presented my final project was so beautiful to see. I love that I was able to assist him and take some work off his hands- he, and PJC, really deserved it. David, the maintenance guy, intentionally had me leave a tote bag behind so that I “had to” come back to PJC and get it! But, I know I will be back many more times than just once. PJC is really special to me. I love it all!

Though living in community was a really hefty challenge we all had to take on- I’m thankful for it. It was worth every second of both frustration and joy. It stretched us all beyond anything we’d been through before, and it dug some deep into a place of not willing to conform- but the fact that we did, the fact that we had scary conversations, the fact that we supported each other, and more, shows what community really is. It’s intentional, but it’s not easy, and that is ok. It’s more than ok. It’s necessary.

The Micah Fellowship is one that I really cannot express myself about eloquently or efficiently. All I know is that it was life changing and liberating. It has led me into a much more mature knowledge of life around me and where it is that I would like to stand amongst it all. It has shown me how my presence impacts the life of others. And most importantly, it has shown me beauty in the greatest discomfort.

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Love them all!

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Prescott-Joseph Center

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Home❤

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A’s Game

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A’s Game view- Love Oakland!

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My Final Binder turned in to PJC- SO MUCH PAPER!

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Parents visited me at Potluck! SO happy they came🙂

The Micah Fellowship is priceless. I am so excited, thrilled, and eager for all those who will experience it. They are all surely to be blessed.

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Quote seems prevalent to life right now!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2014 in 2014 Ariana Alvarez

 

A Few Captured Moments

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Our first picture together during the program!

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Roommate love with Sleevefaces at the Oakland Museum of CA

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Meet Janny, Hope & Justice Coordinator

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St. Mary’s Center senior advocates and I at the Healthy Living Festival at the Oakland Zoo

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All of us at the A’s game to represent Oakland Youth Aspire

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My site director, Karla, and I on my last day of work. 

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Oakland Is Proud Mural
 
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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in 2014 Rachel Gacerez

 

The best things in life…

“The best things in life
are the people we love,
the places we’ve been,
and the memories along the way…”

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St. Mary’s Center will forever be special to me.  I have gained so much more than I could ever imagine.  The stories that were exchanged, the laughter, and the warmth with just a simple smile are unforgettable.  Every person that I have interacted with over the two months have touched and impacted my life in some way without them even knowing.  My co-workers and clients have made St. Mary’s Center a place I can call home.  With the program being over, there is no way that I can walk away from St. Mary’s Center and let go of all my experiences.  Two months was way too short for me.  I love working there so much, and I know I will continue to work with this site.  I feel like there is more work and effort that I can do there for both myself and others. Once Summer ends, and I figure out what my schedule is like for my senior year, I will make my way back to St. Mary’s Center whether it be volunteering every week, a few times a month, or just for big events.  I have so much to give back to St. Mary’s Center for all the joy it has brought me, and I know St. Mary’s Center has more for me and my growth.

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I am forever grateful for this Micah Fellowship experience.  This has most definitely been the biggest challenge that I chose to put myself through.  Throughout my college years, I have piled on commitments, work, and responsibilities, but I felt like nothing could faze me.  Micah has pushed me out of my comfort zone, out of bounds even, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself and the other 5 fellows.  I know we all used our voices. We also learned a lot about ourselves, and we all made decisions based on our self-care.  I saw a lot of growth in myself and my peers, and I know Micah has impacted us in some way moving forward.  Though times were not always perfect, I know that the rough moments were defining moments for each other and ourselves.  I will always look back at the Micah program as it has taught me many life skills within the two months.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in 2014 Rachel Gacerez

 

An Unexpected Lesson Learned

When I applied for the Micah program, I knew that I would gain so much and learn something new about myself. Over the years I have been constantly adding commitments on top of commitments, but also challenging myself in trying new things. I was so passionate about the work I would be doing during the program, I figured it would overpower community living and that the only thing I had to worry about was forming friendships with others. As the program began to play out, I realized that there was more to community living than just to learn about each other. I got caught up in trying to be carefree, easy going, go with the flow person in the house, that I began to lose my voice and my identity, at the expense of others. I was so concerned trying not to be the difficult person in the house and trying not to be viewed as inflexible; I realized that I was too compromising. Naturally I would always put others before myself. I would rather make others feel happy, than for me to be happy myself. I feel joy knowing that I made someone else feel loved, care about, and heard.

Over the course of the program, I also learned that I need to care about myself in balance with my intentions for others. I eventually reached my tipping point, and I have no one to blame but myself solely because I did not speak up.   In both community living and the workplace, I have realized that I need to improve on personal boundaries. Instead of always putting others before myself, I need to bring myself to the forefront, especially when it comes to my identity. If I’m not okay with something, I need to learn how to be truthful and express it, and not worry about how the person on the other end will take it. I remember Sam and Marshall asking us about self-care… What do we do? When do we do it? And I recall each time I struggled to answer. There’s nothing I could really pinpoint that I can identify as my self-care routine or outlet. Though there is about a week left of the program, I know that I will continue to work on these things.

Personal growth is never-ending. I entered the program hoping to learn new things at St. Mary’s Center whether it be development, programming, or social justice topics, but I had never thought that community living would be the part of the program that I would learn and gain the most about myself. I faced challenges at work, but I found solace in the friendships with my coworkers and the support they always give. In contrast, I felt the complete opposite for the first half of the program in community living. Though it has taken our house 7 weeks to be honest and open with each other in a dialogue to discuss personal and community struggles, we recently made a breakthrough. With one genuine conversation, I can describe the growth of each person over the program, but also I know where one struggles and what help that they need from the house.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in 2014 Rachel Gacerez

 

Learning Lessons

This summer has been really good to me. It has challenged me farther than I could have ever imagined, and it has affirmed in ways that have been both unexpected, but very needed.

I think the two greatest things it’s done to me is affirmed to me how large of a role faith plays in my life, and the thought and consideration of future/life plans.

This summer has proven that what seems to be to the most unreachable and most challenging is completely attainable and rewarding if you work hard enough. It has also allowed me to delve into discomfort, both professionally and personally. It has continued to push me to reach out and ask for advice, guidance, silence, and community. It has taught me how important my faith is to me, and how it helps in guiding me to clarity, patience, hurt, truth, and more. It has taught me that it’s okay to not know exactly what I want after I graduate from SMC.

Graduating from SMC is an exciting thought, but one that really makes me sad. I love SMC so much, for it has really given me the world. As naive as it sounds, I wish I could stay forever. Micah has opened my eyes to the possibilities of life after college. All the options are overwhelming, confusing, and intimidating- just as they are motivating. Yet, I think that the biggest thing Micah has taught me in regards to future plans is that I know that whatever I end up doing, it will need to be a place that welcomes in faith, justice, interaction, challenge, and community. Micah has taught me to be okay with not knowing and discomfort. Similarly, it has taught to validate, affirm, and celebrate both my work and feelings. These lessons are lessons I am so incredibly thankful for. I know they will help me and go with me everywhere I go.

I am so appreciative towards all the hands and minds that have put Micah together. It’s an experience that is hard to define with words. But it is surely one that will never escape me.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in 2014 Ariana Alvarez

 

A Few of My Favorite Things…

I want to share a few of my favorite things about my summer in the Micah Program although my list will not be as lyrical and lighthearted as Julie Andrew’s and it will not include “raindrops on roses” and “whiskers on kittens”. Despite that, these things are still awesome and will be what I remember the most from this summer.

1. Exploring another part of the Bay.
Being in Moraga, we get a different bay area experience than in other cities. I have loved being surrounded by the culture and diversity of Alameda and Oakland these past seven weeks. During the school year, I want to make a conscious effort of exploring more of this part of the bay.

2. Reading things that challenged and solidified my views.
I loved the variety of readings, and the few videos, that were part of our class assignment. I feel that having this theoretical articulation of social justice issue along with our first hand experiences created an interesting environment

3. Living with a fabulous group of people.
While the living situation was far from perfect (after all how many groups of 6 are successful at living in close quarters for an extended period of time), we all created an environment that was welcoming and open. While it was tough and awkward at times, we all respect and care about one another to address our issues to the group in order to get it resolved. Being a person that tends to brush off issues or concerns that I have with people, it was nice to learn how to create a safe environment to let those issues be voiced and to be more open and unafraid about it.

4. Learning about the inner workings of a non-profit.
While it was disheartening at times to watch the struggles that APC is going through, being able to sit in on meetings and talk to Phyllis and Doug about the running of APC made me realize how difficult and rewarding the work is. There is a lot of complexity and I understand that more so than ever.

5. Honing in on my communication skills.
I have learned a lot more about opening up to people. Even simple things like sharing my experiences and opinions on things I have come to realize is important and should be shared with others. I innately want to always listen to other people and what they have to say but I have begun to make more of a conscious effort to share more of myself with others.

6. How to Urban Farm.
Not only have I come to truly appreciate locally grow foods, but I have learned how to make that possible in an urban environment. From seeds to table I have learned a lot about producing different vegetables and fruits and have felt a sense of pride at watching things grow, nurturing them, and have them be enjoyed by others.

7. Reflection, reflection, reflection.
As an introvert, it is pretty natural for me to process, and often over-analyze, every experience that I have. This summer has given me the opportunity to work on my reflection skills so I can share my internal reflection externally. I love that I now look at and am able to reflect on myself in all my different roles: as an individual, as a social justice promoter, as a member of a community living in the same space, etc. I will continue to look at myself that way when I return to school and when I am at home.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in 2014 Lauren Lorge

 

Oakland

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From our afternoon at the Oakland Museum of California!

 

 

I feel like the majority of my writing about my Micah journey- whether it be through assigned papers, blog and forum posts, or personal journal entries- has been focused on my non-profit work, readings, and other things directly related to the Micah program and the communities we are in. One community that I want to focus on is the community of Oakland and my experiences I have had of Oakland. Since I work and live at APC, every adventure off of the base is for work-free, non-academic moments. These adventures have made me fall in love with Oakland. There is just an unexplained, vibrant energy that you immediately feel when you step on the streets of Oakland. While unintentially academic, these free-time adventures have taught me a lot and I have been able to make a lot of unusual connections with the Micah program.

One Monday, Emily and I were able to take the bus to Lake Merritt and have lunch in a prime spot along the lake. Seeing everyone run, bike, and walk by gave me the perfect example of just how diverse Oakland is racially, by age, socioeconomically, etc. Sitting in the few cafes we have tried and even going grocery shopping, I notice also that old and young people alike of all different ethnicities, dress, etc. walk in. I love seeing people in all these forms and I am always reminded of the Maya Angelou quote “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”.

There are so many old buildings in Oakland like the Grand Theatre, the Fox Theatre, and the countless Victorian style homes. Some buildings are dilapidated while other are restored to maintain their old charm and glory. These buildings are nestled right in with modern and impressive buildings. Skyscrapers like the Kaiser building and Pandora headquarters, modern cafes, along with new and trendy apartments paint the skyline. Oakland is full of rich history and yet it has a very progressive, modern vibe to it and its buildings reflect that. There is a sense of pride people have toward Oakland. Pride in the city it was and in the city it is becoming. At least that is the feel that I get seeing these two architectures merge.

The creativity we have seen in Oakland has also struck me. Whenever we walk down Oakland streets, I am never dulled by the elaborate murals or even the creative graffiti. There are so many unique shops and fun restaurants that are run by people with such creative visions. Rock Paper Scissors, Show and Tell Concept Shop, Homeroom, and Oaklandish are a few that come to mind. Most of these unique shops in some way make a connection back to the Oakland community even if it is something as simple as being the space where local people can be creative and share their creativity with others. The two times we went to First Friday as well, the concept of the event and the artistry behind the jewelry, art pieces, clothing, and even the food that was there was so inspiring.

When we have returned home after going to Oakland, I always feel a renewed creativity and spark of passion. Oakland is a city with so much potential and so much going for it. It has diversity, progressive attitudes, and creative and caring people. It has a heart and soul to it.

There are plenty of issues with Oakland and I see those issues just as easily walking down the streets as I see all the good that I listed. Rather than dwell on all the issues Oakland and cities like it continually face, I choose to see Oakland’s potential because I truly believe that in this good lies some sort of solution to the bad the city faces. Call me a naïve optimist if you will, but seeing this good is the only way I can see out of the darkness of everything that is going wrong.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in 2014 Lauren Lorge