Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Something for Me to Do

My internship at the William Penn House will end in January. It has been an amazing 18 months of growing and learning.

I could talk about all the practical things I have done here. That is my inclination- I am a beaver. I’ve folded countless sheets and towels. Washed a lot of dishes. I am now an expert email-writer and phone-answerer. I co-clerked a planning committee for a nation wide young adult Friend’s inter-branch conference. I helped plan a retreat here for young adult Friends who are currently working for Quaker organizations. I’ve traveled to multiple yearly meetings and gatherings of Friends representing the House. I scheduled a multitude of appointments for college groups and then had students following me around DC like ducklings. I have seen a lot of guests come and go. I could talk about all of this “doing” but there is sometime much more important and lasting about my time at the William Penn House.

When I graduated from college in the spring of 2007 I was sure that I was headed for a career in academia. That is what I was comfortable with, what I loved, what I knew. I was the student, and that was all. When graduate school plans were not realized I felt lost and unsure about the next step in my life. Thankfully, in the twists and turns of the internet I found the William Penn House. It seemed like a great opportunity to live right in the heart of a big city, get out of Ohio and doing something related to my Quaker faith.

Those expectations were certainly met in my time here, but there have been other ways being here has changed and challenged me that I did not foresee coming. Suddenly I had free time to fill with things other than homework and studying. Suddenly I was far away from my friends of four years. Suddenly I was living and working in the same place. It was a much larger transition than I had anticipated. Who was I now if I wasn’t a student?

I could not imagine a better place to try and figure out the answers to that question than here at the WPH. With all the skills and gifts I thought I was bringing to the House, the House has been willing to invest in me and my development. I have found work here that is meaningful and fulfilling. I have learned to do small things like laundry and dishes as a meditative practice, instead of as something below me. I have had the chance to try new things- like planning a national inter-branch YAF conference and traveling to difference yearly meetings and colleges to represent the House. I have gained skills in communication and reflection by living with others. Encouraged by my mentors here, I have become more attuned to what I am feeling and needing in each moment. I have been able to put into words what I feel called to do and be in my life.

Dorothea Dix said that “In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there much be something for me to do.” That is the greatest gift from my time here. The WPH has allowed me to do deep searching to figure out what I am supposed to do and then as it fits with the mission of the House they have given me the skills, time and opportunity to live that out. For that I am extremely grateful.

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