Hello! My name is Kirsten Chang. I say I’m from Asheville, NC, but I actually grew up in the Montreat/Black Mountain/Swannanoa area. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013, I moved all the way to Minneapolis, MN where I spent a few years working—first as a program coordinator at a non-profit, then as an editor at a children’s book publisher. I loved Minneapolis (in spite of the frigid winters), but when I felt a call to return to North Carolina and seek out a life of service, I listened to it.
I live in the Carrboro house with four other corps members. I thought that going from living alone to living with four other people was going to be… challenging. In fact, it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of the year. Just a few of my favorite memories with my community so far have been: sweating and stumbling our way through YouTube dance workouts; taking cookies and introducing ourselves to our next-door neighbor Gary; singing songs from musicals while we cook and clean; bonding over movie marathons; and dancing the night away at the Seymour Center’s Sweetheart Ball.
As a part of the Orange County Department on Aging, the Robert & Pearl Seymour Center is always bustling with activity. OCDOA provides resources and programs to keep older adults educated, healthy, engaged, and independent. Seniors come here to work out, take a class, eat lunch, or just to socialize and play table tennis or cards. I’ve been placed here as the Programs & Marketing Assistant. I help plan, promote, and execute events. My proudest moments have been seeing seniors get involved in the programs I developed. I brought in an expert on news literacy from the UNC School of Media and Journalism to teach a class on how to spot fake news. I partnered with JSC alum Alli Little and my current housemate Micah Smalley to bring their beautiful folk music to the Center as part of a series called Folk Music Friday. Singing along to “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with the seniors is something I’ll never forget.
I came into this year excited to learn more about the Baha’i faith, which I had started researching before coming to JSC. I’m involved in a weekly study circle with a group of Baha’is here in Carrboro. But what I’ve found to be most meaningful in my spiritual discernment is exploring all kinds of faith expressions. I’ve enjoyed attending many different services, from Baha’i to Quaker to Episcopal to Buddhist. Opening myself up to centering practices and expressions of gratitude and compassion from each faith has been truly transformative.
With only three months of this extraordinary year left, I intend to live each day present to how grateful I am to be here now.