My name is Jeni, and I was member of both the 2016-2017 cohort and the 2017-2018 cohort. Yes, I lived the JSC lifestyle, values, lessons and practices for two years. To say that those two years were transformative is an understatement. The internal and external experiences of JSC for me were comparable to being broken and rebuilt many times over. It wasn’t a time of discovering self, so much as beginning the task of creating self. I am often thinking of the love and bonds that were created, the many mistakes I made that helped me to grow, the yearning for God that burned, and the vulnerability that was (and still is) required to do the hard work of serving and changing.
My biggest take away from the 2016-2017 cohort year is the power and value of community. That year, I formed unbreakable bonds with my cohort. We laughed together, cried together, fought for one another, and trusted one another. We were involved with our own placements and activities in the community, but we also made a conscious effort to share and merge our lives and create community!
I would invite my cohort to perform at events at the Seymour center and to attend cultural and themed gatherings. My roommate invited us to her church for an event organizing to spread awareness and fight sex-trafficking. We attended a housemate’s concerts and supported her amazing voice and spoken word. We took turns inviting people into our homes for dinner. I learned that the true meaning of community is sharing the big and small parts of life with those around you. To this day, I am still in contact with people from that year in JSC. My supervisor at the Seymour Center is still a mentor to me. My cohort was there with me as I walked down the aisle in 2019 and began to create a new kind of community in marriage. The kind of community we built in JSC is the kind of community I still strive to seek out and create today.
My biggest take away from the 2017-2018 cohort is that callings can change. We all want to live an authentic life doing work that is fulfilling and joyful for us, but finding out what that will look like can be an incredible challenge. At the end of my first year in JSC, I had concluded that I belonged in a library. These were the hubs that brought diverse people together as a community, and I wanted it to be my life’s work to facilitate that. JSC offered a placement that fell in line with my calling, and I pursued it with my whole heart. That year was very hard for me, as I realized I had thrown so much time into my work that I had neglected many parts of my call to community. I didn’t get as many experiences with my housemates or even my spiritual community. I missed out on opportunities to share my life with neighbors the way I wanted. I learned a valuable lesson that year that my calling wasn’t necessarily a job, but living authentically into my calling of community wherever I may be. My life’s work to serve God and all of his creation is happening now – in every moment – and it gives me great joy to live into that every day!