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'My Eyes Have Been Opened'

'My Eyes Have Been Opened'

Monday May 13

Rebekka Read, a Young Adult Volunteer serving in New York, reflects on her experience.

New York.

A concrete jungle where dreams really are made! Well, to say these last few months have been a whirlwind would be the understatement of the century! It is fair to say that I love absolutely everything about the city (yes, even the rats).

There is every single type of person here; everyone has a place. This is one of my favorite things about NYC. I love riding the subway or walking the busy Midtown streets and seeing the diversity of people, every single person has their own unique story and everyone belongs. The city really does never sleep (nor do I, thanks to NYC’s wonderful soundtrack of sirens), but the buzz of the place honestly feels like magic! I just love it all; the madness of Manhattan, the beauty of Brooklyn, the quirkiness of Queens; it’s all just wonderful! I was anxious about coming to New York, as it is often seen as a ‘marmite’ place, where people either love it or hate it. I’m sure you have figured out by now that I in fact love it!

I am serving with the World Council of Churches at the United Nations HQ. My eyes have been opened to the world of global politics and international affairs through the lens of religious actors. This combination of religion and politics is something I never knew existed. I have loved learning about the role of religion in international affairs and aM loving being an advocate for Christians all around the world at the UN.

My average day is extremely varied and often includes gender justice, climate justice, indigenous issues and peace and security (so rather light work!) It is fair to say I have learned A LOT (considering I am only educated in science).

As you could imagine, days can feel pretty heavy sometimes and it has been hard to establish a work life balance. To be honest, I am still trying to figure this out.

I have been blessed with a church who has transformed my thoughts around the church. Their loving and affirming progressive theology, whilst still rooted in traditional liturgy, is a combination I did not know was possible, but I have fallen in love with it. I am so grateful to be involved with the young adult group which has introduced me to some wonderful humans. I feel so inspired to see so many young adults who are passionate about their faith and excited to talk about Jesus. It has shown me just how important Christian community really is, particularly in a somewhat lonely place like NYC. I am also now a part of the ‘Chapel Church Band’ which gives me the pleasure of assisting with the leading of worship. Singing is one of my favourite things to do, and I was so excited to be asked to be part of the worship team at church.

As great as my experience has been, it is not without hardship and challenges. My personal development has skyrocketed in these last five months. I have had to set some hard boundaries for myself in order to maximise my capacity at work, at home and elsewhere. In addition to this, I have tried to focus more on self-care and prioritising myself (which, as a chronic people pleaser, has been a hefty challenge). Nevertheless, it’s character building which I am actually really enjoying! I have learned to love ‘solo time’ which has become a key pillar in my weekly routine. It took me a while to get over the social anxiety of sitting in a cafe by myself, but now I look forward to it in my week!

I cannot express how grateful I am to be a YAV and to have these experiences, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time has in store!

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