Almost a year out of Wellesley College, where I spent the last four years, I find myself reflecting on my journey to JSC and what the year has been like so far. I have to admit that JSC is one of those things that I reflect on and think, “if you had told me four years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you!” Lucky enough, I find that my life is full of surprises like that – I never would have thought that I would be in Durham (where?), working with the Episcopal Service Corps (what?), or living with four strangers in intentional community.
Luckily, JSC has been a beautiful experience in learning to trust myself and trust the journey that I am on. When I left Wellesley, I feared that I would not find a community as loving, caring, intentional, and values-driven as the cooperative pub that I spend most of my days leading, loving, and learning from. I wondered what life would look like in Durham, a city I had chosen to move to because I didn’t know a soul here and because I had never visited before. I had decided to take a leap of faith, but as leaps of faith tend to go, I was nervous – scared of being lonely, without direction, and without the love that I had found at Wellesley.
This weekend at our mid-year retreat, we received the letters that we wrote to ourselves at the beginning of the program. I was not excited to get mine – I wrote it frantically while trying to move into this new home, get to know four strangers who I would be living with, and while still processing the move from Massachusetts to North Carolina. But in many ways, that letter was a relief. I set a list of goals for myself – find community, begin a spiritual journey towards formally converting to Judaism, get involved in local activism, and find time to grow my spirit and soul. And I was surprised to find that JSC has created the space for me to pursue almost all of the goals that I had listed. It’s cheesy, but I teared up a little when I read the end of the letter to myself “I love you!” which is something that I now more authentically feel and believe thanks to my dear housemates and what I have learned through servant leadership.
As we near the last half of the program, I feel so grateful for the space that JSC has created in my life to grow as a person and community member. I often say that I chose JSC because I didn’t want to live alone after graduation, and I didn’t want to be without a community. This is still true, but I could never have guessed how meaningful the community that I have found here would be. I love coming home each day to a group of people, strangers half a year ago, who are cooking, singing, dancing, talking, and laughing. I love that JSC has given me a space to know these people so deeply, to hold each other in times of pain and sorrow, and to rejoice in times of success and joy. I love having a group of folks in Carrboro and in Durham who I know will hold me accountable, push me to grow, and challenge me with new ideas, life experiences, and points of view. Even though we have months to go, I find myself preemptively missing this beautiful home that we have built.
Luckily, JSC has given me the tools to discern my own path, at least for the immediate future. Without JSC, I would never have worked at the Pauli Murray Center, which highlights so many of the things I love most about Durham – its history of activism, dedication to centering marginalized voices (and at its best, building a city wherein no voice is marginalized in the first place), and investment in building community even as the city changes rapidly. While I’m not sure what I will be doing in Durham next year, I decided a few months into the program that the Bull City is where I need to be for the foreseeable future. I’m so thankful for this program and those who make it possible – it has given me so much love and joy and pushed me to grow as an individual, a professional, and (I think most importantly) a member of beloved community.