Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the real world: chicago

First of all I’ll apologize for being terrible at posting anything these past few weeks. Now that we have our third group of students, things are slowing down, so you can expect more updates.

So last week I was talking with our area director, Jason, who has been working at YouthWorks for the past 10 years in a variety of roles. Jokingly he said that working for YouthWorks is kind of like The Real World, that being the MTV show (thought I would clarify), but it did have some validity to it especially during the first three weeks.

Let’s just take a look at this for a minute…

“This is the true story [yep, we’re living in a true story this summer]… of seven strangers [well, there’s only four of us, but for a week we did have nine people]…picked to live in a house [in this case a small apartment]…work together [check]…and have their lives taped [so we have a video crew whose coming this week—no joke. plus when you have 70+ high school students watching you, you might as well have your life taped]…to find out what happens…when people stop being polite and start being real [we like to think that we can have both of those and still love each other]…The Real World: Chicago.”

Yep, you get randomly placed to live in a city you don’t know with three or more strangers for three months while trying to somehow work together to lead short term high school mission trips every week. All that to say, I’m so grateful for my team this summer—they’re amazing! At first I was a bit worried about how things would work out and how we’d all fit together, but now that we celebrated our one month anniversary together this weekend, I couldn’t imagine being with another group of people. Life is never boring with Sara, Matt, and Brad.

Friday, June 19, 2009


As a coffee-drinking, outdoor-loving daydreamer, I’ve found a place that would make many six-year-olds jealous.

I have my own playground.

I know reading this, you are all pretty jealous, but truly this is a great thing. The school that our apartment is attached to and where the participants stay has its own playground. It makes a perfect escape to steal away for a cup of coffee, swing on the swings, or get lost is a good book. And to continue in my childlikeness I’ve been reading the original Peter Pan book. If you haven’t read this you’re missing out; that’s all I have to say.

I'll share more about our first week of programming later, but right now I'll continue pretending that I am six.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

the invasion

After a week of training and two weeks of preparation, we finally have students on our site! Sunday afternoon was the kickoff for our summer of mission trips in the Humboldt Park area with 50 students from all over. I cannot even begin to explain how exciting it is to have students and to be able to see the purpose of the past three weeks.

Yesterday, Monday, was the first full day of programming. I got wake up at 5:30 to make breakfast, and later got to lead a work crew to an organization called Casa Central. It was phenomenal! I spent the majority of the day playing bingo and dominos, dancing, making arts and crafts, and chatting in Spanish with senior citizens (all who are in this facility are Hispanic, the majority Puerto Rican). It's so good to be talking in Spanish again.

As a part of my position, I lead and organize all of the evening activities. So later that night I took a group of 50 students on the EL down to Millennium Park, and the amazing part is that it couldn’t have gone any better! Our system of getting students on the train and then walking to the park worked surprisingly well, and all of the students were all on time. We even got back to the site a half an hour early—it was truly incredible.

These first few days have been a bit hectic and rest is scarce, but we’re getting things figured out. Fortunately this is a small week of programming (only 50 people as opposed to the typical75), which has been a huge help. On top of that we have another YouthWorks team at our site to help kick off the first week before we both have to run our own independent sites. What makes it even better is that one of the staff members on the other site is a Taylor person; it has been good to have someone around who I am used to seeing outside of YouthWorks.

Week 1: two days down, three to go.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

settling in

We’ve been here in Humboldt Park for a week now and I finally feel like I can say I’ve settled in. Actually this feeling occurred in a matter of minutes that happened five minutes ago. What was that defining moment?

I found my local coffee shop. I think everyone finds comfort in one place or another, and for me it’s Saturday mornings in a coffee shop. For the past two years in Upland, it was every Saturday at Paynes; in Costa Rica, Entre Pan; and now in Chicago, Atlas CafĂ©. Its artsy, internationally themed, has free wireless and good coffee, a three block walk from where I'm staying, and I’m loving it.

Saturday mornings you’ll know where to find me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

here we go

Okay, I’ve gotten my break from blogging in, and now I’m back at it.

So you might just be wondering how much can happen in just one month. The answer to that question is a whole heapin’ ton. In the past month or so I’ve been in 3 countries, 7 states, and slept in 12 different beds—a bit ridiculous, I know.
But I’ve finally made it to my summer home.

A few days ago we drove down to southern Chicago, where I’ll be for the summer. I’m here with a team of three others in the Humboldt Part area and will be leading week long high school mission trips in the area throughout all of the summer. It’ll be an adventure for sure. So here we go again…