One of the most challenging aspects of recruiting is the simple fact that it is extremely difficult to capture the rambling and complex expanse of a service year in a thirty second elevator pitch. In fact, dare I say, it’s downright impossible. How do you even begin to scratch the surface of what a year with Amate House means? How do you communicate the mechanics of the stipend, the benefits, the transit, the site placements—while simultaneously trying to express that the sum of the year is far greater than its logistical parts?
How do you convey that it is a year for professional and personal development far beyond anything that a standard 9-5 can offer? That you, as a fresh college graduate, are, quite frankly, handed more responsibility than you should be—and that this baptism by fire is, albeit terrifying, a surefire way to discover your immense capacity for creativity that you previously may not have known existed.
How do you explain that the three houses are not just strange converted convent dorm-like living, but rather individual and unique homes in the truest sense of the word? Places where you are pushed and pulled beyond your comfort zone—through bouts of tear-soaked laughter over games of Settlers of Catan, huddling around the one functioning Ethernet cord, hiding a creepy stuffed animal in kitchen cupboards. Places where you cry at the creaky old dinner table in frustration, in confusion at the deep-seated social injustices that now have a face and a name in your students, your clients at work. Homes where you are surrounded by nine, ten, twelve other brilliant and unique beings, each having varying levels of existential crises on the daily—each wanting to share in this clarification of self with one another.
Because that is—in my experience—what these service years are all about: a clarification of self. You will surprise yourself, both in good ways and in bad, you will succeed and you will fail, but you will never do any of these things alone. It is a cycle of nourishment and replenishment—you are filled up through your community, your faith and spirituality, your work, precisely so that you can consistently give yourself back to that same community, faith and spirituality, work. It is a constant cycle, this clarification of self, and though challenging—one that is well worth the undertaking.