Thursday, June 20, 2013

Step #4: Meet The Team

We're about halfway through Week 1 of Orientation Training for YASC. The orientation itself consists of daily programs in which we discuss cross-cultural communication and basic guidelines for representing the Episcopal Church while we're abroad for the year. But this orientation has already proved to be much more than just the scheduled programs led by our talented staff. (Shout-out to Chris Pullenayegem, especially, our cultural competency consultant. He's awarded brownie points to whoever can pronounce his last name, so send in your phonetic ideas if you think you know how!)

In addition to the incredible staff team, I've been surrounded these past few days by a large group of dedicated young adults and young adults-at-heart who will all be abroad by the end of the summer. I've linked to their blogs on my sidebar, but I really want you to know every single member of our team in the way that I know them. I'm going to try to go alphabetically, but these are the wonderful YASC volunteers that are providing incredible examples to my own journey.

Alan is a brilliant recent graduate of Clemson University and will be in 
Haiti working as a development assistant in Cange. 
Alan happened to be one of the first people from the group 
that I met in Grand Central Station before taking the train up to Tarrytown. 

Ashley is a world traveler! She'll be traveling from Virginia to 
the Northern Philippines and will be working as the Development 
Assistant of the Episcopal Development Foundation 
of St. Mark. She only arrived here at Stonypoint with us 
yesterday, but she's been just as friendly and welcoming 
as the rest of the group!

Becky is a strong soul from San Diego who will be 
heading to Honduras to teach in a classroom there! 
She also happens to be an incredible piano player 
and giver of new Youtube obsessions. Look up 
KidSnippets for some great entertainment!

Carlin is a graduate from St. John's (Mom, turns out 
this really would have been a great school for me! I will be 
suggesting it to my kids, for sure!) who will be leaving 
Northwest Texas to serve in North Korea! She'll be 
an intern with Towards Peace in Seoul and will hopefully 
be able to put her mad discussion skills to good use there!

Charlotte is the most incredible Mama-Char! She's providing 
me with the computer to write this blog and has been the purveyor 
of every little thing I might need that I forgot to bring with me. 
She'll be leaving her childhood home in Indianapolis to travel 
to Japan where she'll be the Education and International Exchange 
Program Assistant at the Kiyosato Educational Experiment 
Project. I'm excited to see her maternal instincts translate cross-culturally. 

Claire has consistently been an encouraging presence here at Stonypoint 
and she happens to be another YASCer who missed Discernment 
Weekend in February. She seems to have acclimated just as
 well to life in this community as I have even though she's in the 
midst of MCAT studying. She'll be joining Becky in Honduras 
after leaving her home in the Diocese in Mississippi and will be 
a college counselor at a bilingual school there! She and Becky 
will be able to host some lovely piano soirees with their joint talents. 

Dan is one of our Young Adult-At-Heart Service Corps volunteers. 
He has had lots of past experience being abroad, specifically in Haiti, 
and it's there that he'll return shortly after these two weeks are up. 
Dan has been such a valuable resource as one with experience and 
advice to bestow upon us less-worldly cultured folk. 

Dianne is another YAHSC volunteer. She and her husband will actually 
be in El Salvador for three years and started their trip in March. 
They're teaching English to the locals while they strengthen their 
own Spanish language. Dianne has been added a lot to individual 
conversations with her advice and sarcasm keeping things light. 
I'm so grateful that she and her husband took the time to come back 
here even though their service has already started.

Hannah has quickly become one of the most interesting people I've ever met. 
Her YASC trip represents a greater transition in her life from one of 
badges and accomplishments to one of putting more emphasis on process, 
growth, and change. She'll be leaving Olympia and traveling to El Salvador 
to work at Fundacion Cristosal. She taught me the very beautiful combat 
dance called Capoeira. I encourage you to research the art yourself, 
it's an incredibly humbling experience that I think we all might benefit from!

Heidi has my dream job here in the states with her kindergarten and first 
grade students. But she has packed up her classroom in Wyoming and 
will be in Tanzania this upcoming year in a brand new classroom where 
they'll speak Swahili! I can't imagine what it must be like to learn an 
entire new language, but it seems like she's up for the challenge!

Joseph has the most amazing laugh I've ever heard. Once he's started, 
it is absolutely impossible for anyone to stop their own fits of 
laughter. Hopefully his humor and spirit will translate when he leaves
 West Texas for Panama City where he'll be mission assistant for the diocese. 

Julie, another YASCer who missed Discernment Weekend with Claire 
and myself, is located just west of my favorite New York diocese, 
but will soon be leaving sunny Pennsylvania and heading out to Haiti, 
where she'll be teaching at the School of Nursing Science! She's been 
such a great asset and I'm glad that she came in as late as I did and has 
still managed to totally make her place in the group!

Keri is the only married YASCer! She'll be leaving behind her lovely 
husband Jacob in Virginia and traveling about an hour and a half 
away from me! In Hawston, South Africa, she'll be the Home-Based
 Care and Support Group Facilitator at the Overstrand Care Centre. 
Plans for she and I to visit places like Robben Island and Stellenbosch
are already in the works!

Margaret is my favorite masseuse in the entire world! Upon meeting her, 
I immediately lost tons of tension in my back as she worked out my 
anxieties. She'll be leaving lovely Dayton, Ohio and heading to the 
Philippines to an assignment yet to be determined! Her incredible 
spirit, faith, and adaptability will make sure she'll be an asset wherever she is! 

Maurice is another member of Team South Africa! He is an extremely 
faithful soul and will be bringing his faith to Holy Cross School 
in Grahamstown, where he'll be an assistant teacher. He has one of 
the sweetest off-kilter smiles I've ever seen and I can't wait 
to see him charm his way through any situation. 

Paul will also be following Maurice, Keri, and I to South Africa! 
In actuality, we'll be following him, as he leaves in a few weeks! 
He leaves North Carolina to join Maurice in Grahamstown where 
he'll be the Student Minister at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael 
and St. George. I'm so excited to watch Paul continue to discern his 
own spiritual path and instill the same faith he has in the youth at his parish. 

Pierre is a YAHSCer and is actually Father Pierre of Southeast Florida. 
He'll be heading back home to Haiti and serving as the Dean of 
the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince. He has 
been an exceptionally faithful example and has provided some 
great theological knowledge that one can only learn 
in seminary in history courses!

Rachel is my beautiful roommate here at Stonypoint. She is one 
fiery North Carolinan that will be bringing her spirit to Panama City 
with Joseph. She'll be a teaching assistant in a history classroom 
as well as the Social Outreach Assistant at St. Christopher's Episcopal 
School. I cannot wait to follow her journey after getting to know her here in NY! 

Sara, from Alabama, will be headed to Hong Kong where she'll be 
the Mission Intern at the Mission for Migrant Workers. With her 
passion laying in women's rights and social justice, she's excited to 
work especially with the female migrant workers and really be able 
to contribute her passion to the work in her placement. She's so 
lucky to find her passion there and I can't wait to find mine as well!

Sean is our one non-mainlander and is from Maui, Hawaii! He'll be 
taking his easygoing and joyful spirit to Japan where he'll be a 
volunteer at the Asian Rural Institute in Nasushiobara. He seems so 
content with watching the people and the world around him and I 
can't wait to hear what he learns in Japan watching a 
culture so different from ours. 

Tom is another of our YAHSC volunteers. He and his wife Dianne are 
spending the next three years in El Salvador teaching English! I'm so 
excited to hear any English these two teach in order to see if their 
thick Massachusetts accents will translate in teaching! It's been such a 
joy to work with Tom and he has some great insights about adapting 
in cultures and taking it one day at a time. 

Will B. will be taking his spirit from North Carolina and taking it 
right on over to Hong Kong with Sara. He'll be the Chaplaincy 
Assistant with the Mission to Seafarers. Now, I have absolutely 
no idea what that means, but I can tell you about Will's disposition. 
I've never seen a person with such joy on their face at the smallest 
things. His sarcasm and enjoyment has made me feel better about 
many long and draining trainings. His humor has continued to brighten 
my day and I'm so jealous of Hong Kong for getting that spirit this next year!

Will P. is our one underage volunteer. He is taking a break after his 
junior year of college and traveling to Cuba and serving as the 
Mission Assistant for the diocese there. As a fellow PK, he's 
had his fair share of church and communion wafers, but he 
seems to have discovered a passion for communion wafers as much 
as a passion for finding joy in all situations. I would wish Cuba on 
no one else, but I'm excited to learn more about the culture and I 
know he is prepared for whatever challenges he might face!

And last, but certainly not least, Zach! Now I'd like to send a huge 
shout-out to Zach because he was the first person to notice that I 
was missing from the established Facebook group and to add me in 
and welcome me as one of their own! He and I quickly bonded over 
our love for Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj and created an impromptu 
sing-along on a bus trip to NYC two days ago. He will be leaving his 
home in Detroit and traveling down to Haiti where he'll be teaching 
and providing administration support at the Bishop Tharp Institute in Les Cayes.

So, click on their names and read their blogs! Learn more about them and donate to their trips if you can! Although a few of them are fully funded, every little bit will help the others and I'd love for my community to branch out and support not just my trip, but the others as well!

In case you haven't donated to my journey yet, you can do so online at or shoot me an email ( or find me on Facebook to find out other ways to donate! I thank you for reading such a long email and I hope you enjoyed learning about the other YASC and YAHSCers this year! 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

It Takes A Village

So far, this blog has been all about me and my journey, but what I've barely mentioned so far is that there are quite a lot of Episcopal young adults from across the country who will be joining with YASC and going on their own program somewhere in this wide world. Now, in February there was a Discernment Weekend that unfortunately some thesis data collection at Skidmore did not allow me to attend, but at that weekend, the entire discerning group met! Although I regret not meeting my fellow YASC volunteers earlier, I am already getting to know them due to all the wonders of the social networking of this age.

You'll all be pleased to know that I am in the company of brilliant, faithful, and thoughtful minds. As we continue in our journey together, we learn from and teach one another. They've already proved to be incredible resources as I try to make this process more and more real with doctor's visits proving my health and passports applied for.

Because of the help and support they've given me, I'd love to transfer some of the love I've gotten from my followers to their journey.

If you're interested in following the blogs they're keeping as they travel, I've linked to them in the side bar on my main page. Take a close look at Unto the Ends of the Earth, How It's Going and Teach, Pray, Serve. So far these are the YASCers I've found that will also be in Africa! If you give them a follow, I'm sure at some point I'll sneak into a post or picture. Now, that's not to give you an excuse to only look at those three blogs but they should give you a nice starting off point for your exploration of all things YASC!

I'm starting to get bored with my text-filled posts, so I will begin to brainstorm some reasons for pictures and start writing those blogs to make it a bit more interesting for you.

In the meantime, I have a new Anonymous to thank for my latest donation! I am getting so close to that 10% mark, I can feel it! As always, if you're like to contribute please click HERE and make any size of monetary donation!


Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Step #3: Keep 'Em Wanting More

Would you look at that? I posted a week ago! It looks like this may be becoming a nice habit after all. And you all thought I couldn't do it! Or was that just me? Well then, it looks like I've proven myself wrong. Hey Self, you're looking at the new and improved blogger Emily! Anyway, enough about my otherworldly blogging accomplishments, it's on to what you've all done so far!

I've been collecting both in-person donations and online donations and the total so far, is well over a thousand dollars! We've raised $750 online and another 350 or so in checks that I've received in the mail. I want to send a huge huge thank you to everyone so far who has donated, but as some of you may know, on my Go Fund Me page, if you donate a specific amount of money ($25 of more) you'll receive a special blog shout-out. And now it's time for Round 1 of those shout-outs! 

So here's to Eric Schweikert, a great friend of the Barker family since Mom and Dad's years in college! Three cheers for Eric! Your faith is an incredible example for me and I will try to implement it in my travels. 

Thanks also to Betsy Fisher, one of my dad's clergy colleagues from the Diocese of NY! Betsy, you're the top! I'm so glad that you're willing to support me even without meeting me. God's care is spreading far and wide!

Marshall and Laura Shelly, you're my first couple donation and I'm so excited it came from you! Marshall and Laura know our family through a clergy colleague group set up by JSB+. (Note to self: set up a colleague group. It'll be absolutely invaluable for any future I have. These men have supported my dad through everything!) 

Thanks to John Andrews, a Nebraska seminarian from VTS! Your contribution is so greatly appreciated! I'm glad you trust a stranger enough to donate towards such a fantastic cause!

Alan Murchie, your music has inspired me and I can't wait to bring some of your fantastic spirit, faith, and kindness with me as I travel. Thank you for the donation!

To my three different Anonymouses (Anonymice?): You know who you are! Whether we've only met recently, have known each other for years, or are still waiting for an introduction, I am so grateful! 

And that ends the first round of shout-outs! I cannot wait to keep this fun going! If you want to be one of these lucky colorful people, click on through to the donation site HERE and give! Even the smallest amount will make a huge dent in the amount I need to raise and I'm grateful for every donation, no matter how small!