My year in the Johnson Service Corps was far from typical. To begin with, I was shared between two placements – one with Anathoth Community Garden and one with the Conservation Fund. For the first several months of my service year, I spent some days under the blazing North Carolina sun harvesting vegetables, and others sitting behind a desk supporting rural nonprofits. As if that wasn’t enough whiplash for one year, everything was upended by a global pandemic!
It felt like everything turned on a dime. One moment, I’m living a life of aspiration. At its heart, JSC is a year to point yourself towards vocation, towards a thriving life. When everything shut down in March of 2020, aspiration felt a little too much like luxury. Thriving was quickly crowded out by surviving as my community tried to figure out how to keep each other safe against a virus we knew very little about.
In retrospect, we were building a foundation that the next two years would rest on. Those early days in quarantine in the Carrboro house showed me the importance of keeping all dimensions of yourself healthy. They taught me to look at an uncertain world in the face and make decisions in spite of it all. I learned to be grateful for where I lived, and how to invest in making my home a safe space.
At the end of my time with the program, I moved to Chicago to get my Master’s in Public Policy. Thanks to my time in JSC, I have been able to handle hybrid school with at least a modicum of patience, and I feel proud of the new community I built in the Midwest. And, I look forward to moving back to Carrboro after I graduate this June (it’s a hard town not to fall in love with).
The lessons I learned as a Corps Member were not what I expected. I never anticipated learning how to farm, nor how to balance two jobs. I came in wanting to figure out how to live a good life, and I left with greater resilience for an ever-changing world. I am so grateful for my time with JSC, and I look back on my time there with a deep fondness.