“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). That’s the motto of my life, before joining JSC and throughout. I graduated in 2017 with a master’s in International Management from Alpen Adria University in Klagenfurt, Austria. I am originally from Slovakia, which is where almost all of my family still lives. As a child, I lived in Australia for two years, I went to university in Vienna, then in Ireland, USA, and worked Italy. Throughout the packing in and packing out I have come to realize that as hard as it may seem, it is much easier for me to come to a new place where I know no one, than to leave a place with people I love, not knowing when I’ll see them again. So if it’s hard to leave, it’s a good sign in a way.
How did I find out about JSC while living in Austria and Slovakia? During my master’s, I did an exchange semester at UNC Greensboro and I decided to return. I looked at lots of options that did not work out because of visa restrictions. I googled “internships in NC,” and the JSC program appeared. I also wished for a community, which I lacked during my previous year while working in Ireland. And I love helping people and have been interested in working in the nonprofit sector. Additionally, the location in Durham/Chapel Hill could hardly be more ideal. Thankfully I got accepted. There was a way to return to NC after much searching, to be part of a community, help people, and work in the nonprofit sector..because “nothing’s impossible with God”.
I’m very grateful to be in North Carolina and a part of JSC. Aleta, Christina, and Andrew have been supportive and helpful, as well as the JSC board, mentors, and JSC supporters. It is very encouraging to know, especially in hard times, that there is an entire crowd of people standing behind us, JSC corps members, and supporting us. During my time with JSC, I have learned more about the U.S. system, culture, and relationships. I was placed at Club Nova for primarily cooking and cleaning the Clubhouse (house where Club Nova is located) together with our members (people with severe mental illnesses). I’ll be honest, the start was rough. I’ve never worked in the mental health field, the work was hard, and I had to do a lot of adjusting.
But I have grown to have a good time at work, feeling supported by our members, and thankful for every smile and kind word, and we have become a help to each other. Yes, I’m here for them, but they help me too, perhaps sometimes without even realizing it. When I feel that our members are happy to see me and miss me when I’m not there, it provides me assurance that my work and presence there matter.
I have also become a more self-confident and came to believe that I’m a leader and good at organizing. I have been told that several times before starting this program by various friends, but did not believe it. A leader? Me? I never wanted to be one, because leading others is a huge responsibility, and I wasn’t sure if I’d make a good leader. At Club Nova, I came to realize that I am a leader and I can be a good one. It is leading by serving, as we learned in Servant Leadership. Further, in our intentional community I became aware of my pretty good organizational skills and keeping track of things. I was not aware of that before or at least did not believe it to be true. I studied management but never wished to become a manager. While in Europe, I’ve been told that I would be a good manager, and during my time here I heard that I will make a great manager one day. I also learned about mental health field and have become more compassionate, especially toward people with severe mental illnesses.
I have been learning a lot about myself, others, and relationships. I know that God is with me, and am hopeful that “all things work for good for those who love God”(Rom 8:28). So I wish to speak a massive thank you to everyone who helped in any way for me and us, the corps members, to be here with JSC. And what’s next? God knows. I will likely go back to Europe and work full time. Which country and which field is still to be determined. But I have learned throughout life that “everything has it’s time” (Eccles 3).