Dear Friend,

I know I said I would be posting more, now that I’m done with this past semester, but apparently break decided to be just as busy… That said, if the rest of my life ends up being busy, I’d rather find a way to incorporate my blog into the fray, than to leave it by the wayside, so I’ll work on that.

Yesterday, I packed a bunch of stuff into my mom’s car, and we drove up to Washington DC where I, along with 14 other students, moved into the Nelson Good house in Northeast DC. Together, we will be spending the semester as a part of the Washington Community Scholar Center: learning about the city, living/cooking/studying/exploring together, and interning at various organizations throughout the city. Five of us (including me!) are senior social work majors who are using the internship to fulfill our senior practicum requirements. This means that we spend 32-35 hours a week at our internship placement rather than the 20 other students do, and that we are also reporting back our experiences with people back on EMU campus. As an introvert, and someone who just had a rough semester, I’ve been feeling pretty anxious about the coming few months as I try and “prove” to myself that I really can “do this” and spend a lot of time with people that I do not yet know. I’ve always felt nervous before starting anything with new people and so to be moving in with a bunch of people I don’t know (although I do know SOME people) AS WELL AS starting to work in a place with new people feels a bit overwhelming. I am excited, however, to be living in the city. I’ve spent so much of my life living in places with open space and, while I’ve loved it, I’m super excited to be living just a short walk from the metro and easy access to the rest of everything this city has to offer.

This semester, I will be working at L’Arche Greater Washington D.C. L’Arche is an organization that has over 100 communities around the world where people with intellectual disabilities live in community with people without disabilities. When setting up my internship placement, I was really drawn to how L’Arche talks about what they do. I could quickly see a difference between L’Arche and other organizations I looked at, where other organizations would be saying “These are the programs we offer people” while at L’Arche it felt like they were saying “this is the community we’re building, come meet us and join us.” I found that difference to be powerful and refreshing. While I haven’t started yet, and details are yet to be worked out (a little nerve-wracking, but I’ll be ok, I promise) the current plan of what I’ll be doing is a combination of working in the office learning about fundraising, etc.and spending time with the community itself. People keep asking what I’m hoping to get out of the experience, and I’m finding it hard to answer that question, because in many ways I’m excited to see how the values and characteristics of the community translate into the office setting. Basically I’m trying to figure out how that aspect of L’Arche that drew me to it, it’s relationship-based community focus, goes beyond the houses themselves, and is organization-wide… and then how I see that possibly being translated to other settings.

Personal Goals for the Semester include:

  • Live music, as cheaply and frequently as possible
  • Eating at a variety of Ethnic Restaurants
  • MUSEUMS!!!
  • Read all the books I brought for pleasure. You see I haven’t been able to just READ for WAY TOO LONG!!! and I’ve been randomly accruing books, mostly from Gift & Thrift, over the past semester that are more than ready to be read so I brought them along. They include:
    • The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
    • The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
    • Quiet – Susan Cain
    • I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) – Brene Brown
    • The Maze Runner – James Dashner
    • Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
    • Ghana Must Go – Taiye Selasi
    • I Been In Sorrows Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots – Susan Straight
    • Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
    • Moriarty – Anthony Horowitz
    • The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
    • My Name Is Memory – Ann Brashares
    • Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson
    • Finishing Touches – Deanna Kizis
  • I’d also like to being going to church on a regular basis, whether that means going to  bunch of different churches over the semester, or finding a church nearby to adopt for the next few months.

Anyways, that’s a bit about the coming semester…

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo