A reflection by Rachel Ulrich, BVS volunteer
Because I have lived in six places within the last four and a half years, change and adventure have become regular companions in my life. Between transferring colleges, studying abroad, and living in varying locations over the summer, I have participated in a repeated process of packing bags and venturing into the unknown.
This life of a 21st century American nomad can be thrilling and exhausting, exciting and intimidating, fulfilling and disorienting. This fall, I committed to another life-changing move by joining Brethren Volunteer Service. My transition into BVS began with what my new beginnings normally entail: openness to new experiences, concern about adjusting to a new place, and a love for adventure that beckons me into the unknown.
When I discovered the BVS position at Highland Park Elementary School in Roanoke, Va., I felt confident about serving at this site. This confidence bewildered me because I had no connection to Highland Park Elementary or Central Church of the Brethren, the congregation that created the BVS position at the school. Yet, as I watched a video about Central Church’s work with Highland Park Elementary, I thought straightforwardly, “That’s where I want to be.”
When I arrived in Roanoke, Central Church of the Brethren greeted me with a more loving welcome than I could have ever anticipated. I instantly felt at home with this congregation. I knew that the church supported me as a person in their community and as a person serving at Highland Park Elementary.
My first week volunteering as a teacher’s aide and project coordinator at the school proved to be rewarding and challenging. I had worked with children before, but not at a school. Entering daily classroom schedules during mid-October felt like leaping into a complicated jump rope event. I discovered that I needed to ask questions, clarify details, and remain resilient and flexible throughout innumerable surprises and mistakes.
I have now served in my volunteer placement for six months. I cannot imagine having never met the people at Central Church or the school. I also cannot imagine having never discovered what I have learned so far about myself, education, community, and volunteer service. I am reminded of the growth that comes with adventure and the development that comes with change. I am reminded of how there is deep worth in growing new roots in new places. I look forward to discovering what the rest of this adventure reveals.
Rachel Ulrich grew up in Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. Learn more about the work of Brethren Volunteer Service at www.brethren.org/bvs or support it today at www.brethren.org/give.
(Read this issue of eBrethren)