Back in November when I was first starting to think of what I would like to do with my summer, I prayed a lot and decided that I wanted to try something completely new. Although I loved the job that I had as a camp director, the program that I had been working in for the last five years and lived in for the past fifteen, I felt that in order to grow to my fullest potential, I needed a change of scenery. I needed to leave my comfort zone in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Bay Area, to make new connections and to build new skills that could broaden the impact that I could make.
When I made the decision to participate in the Micah Fellowship and told my family and friends what I would be doing for the summer, they were initially shocked and concerned. I tried to explain that the point of this fellowship was to humbly walk with God by:
- Living and reflecting with a small group of young people who are actively involved in the social justice field
- Being in community with the people of my neighborhood, West Oakland
- Fostering a reciprocal partnership that is mutually beneficial between myself, the people I live with, the neighborhood I live in, the organization that I work for, and the people whom I serve for and with
Although I gave them this very scripted explanation of what I would be doing and how I would be growing, I knew that it would be so much more than that. It would be a time to reflect, to pray, to read scripture and research social justice causes, to learn about a beautifully diverse community, think critically, develop relationships, execute plans and so much more. I have rare opportunity to participate in a true service-learning immersion experience. Even over the course of the past week, I have been given the seeds for change in a number of people’s lives. I’ve met some of my new neighbors and have noticed many of their assets and how they can impact my life and even an area or two where I might be able to contribute some of my strengths. At What Now America and Convergence Church, I have seen a multitude of people who have chosen to live their life serving others and are incredibly thoughtful, thankful and accepting. Through our scavenger hunt and personal exploration of the neighborhood–particularly our visit to the Remember Them sculpture and mural directly across the street– I have been able to see the many talents of the community and how one person can humbly make a huge change within the community. I noticed how the identities of individual people and communities come through in the overall mission and feeling of the city.
In the past two days, I have already started to recognize the deep history, strength, pride and power of Oakland and what an integral role this city has in the development of the Bay Area, California and the nation.