That is the amount I have driven since leaving my home in Waterloo, Iowa. I never expected taking a risk to travel and move so far away would allow me to still do things I love. I studied biochemistry and work at Durham Children’s Initiative. It doesn’t make much sense for me to be here. But I felt God calling me this way at the beginning of this now nine months long pandemic. I had just finished a year-long research project on social justice topics in higher education at my university. I wanted to continue that work and a service year provided the perfect avenue to do just that. I provide food and other basic needs weekly to families at DCI, we even just donated over 2,000 toys to kids for the holidays.
My work at my placement does involve biochemistry. I faithfully wake up each Saturday morning for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics – it is much more exciting when the kids tell you what it means). I teach science in hopes of increasing representation in the field by providing these students with an early exposures to it. The families at DCI are primarily back and brown; both historically underrepresented groups in the STEM/STEAM fields. I love doing my favorite experiments to watch as a child for the STEAM attendees. We’ve done elephant toothpaste and made candy DNA so far.
STEAM requires me to be on Zoom and let’s be honest, I have experienced the Zoom fatigue more than once. It’s how I met my housemates, fellow corps members, and my mentor. Shout out to my mentor Del, he’s the best! It’s not my favored method for introductions, but it bridges the gap in this pandemic. It’s a weird time to start a job too and also having to meet my new co-workers via the Zoom room. While I don’t see video chatting going away anytime soon, I am thankful for the introductions it has allowed and for many connections to remain.
My hopes for the new year are to reach more students each week and do what I ultimately came here to do. I hope to use this experience to find a vocation serving others that brings me joy and provides fulfillment.