Young Adult Volunteers commit to serving a minimum of one year in the U.S. or Internationally at one of our sites. YAVs have the opportunity to volunteer alongside local partners, engaging in work and conversation around issues that address poverty, reconciliation, and what it means to share the hope of Christ through service. This blog is a chance to stay updated on what is happening in the life of the YAV program, whether that is with our current volunteers, our abundance of alum, the YAV office, or our YAV partners. The conversations and tough issues that we spend countless hours talking about as YAV’s don’t end when the year does; welcome to the conversation!
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a YAV, click below:
Dance when the Spirit says Dance
By Emily Brewer, YAVA-Guatemala/Miami
3 Let them praise God’s name with dance;
let them sing God’s praise with the drum and lyre!
4 Because the Holy One is pleased with the people,
God will beautify the poor with saving help.
-Psalm 149:3-4 (CEB)
As I heard the drums come in on “Nnung yay dah” a few weeks ago at YAV orientation, I was thrown back five years to when I sat in that same room at Stony Point, preparing to leave for my first YAV year in Guatemala. As my hands started to clap and my body started to move to that familiar beat and tune, I couldn’t help but think about how much I had changed since I first began to learn those songs that now feel like a part of me. Five years ago as I sang those songs, I clapped along, and I may have wanted to move a little, but I definitely did not dance.
When I was a little girl I loved to dance. I remember dancing in the kitchen with my mom to Stevie Wonder and being held and twirled by my grandfather at wedding receptions. Somewhere around middle school, though, my self-consciousness took over and I stopped dancing. And I never really started dancing again, even after I outgrew some of that adolescent awkwardness.
It wasn’t until my YAV year in Guatemala that I really learned how to dance again. It seems strange to realize that I learned to dance again in Guatemala. My host family and the organization I worked for were Presbyterian, which in Guatemala means they don’t dance. My host family, however, (like most of us) didn’t strictly follow all the rules of the church, and my host siblings loved to dance—to Shakira, to Enrique Iglesias, and even some tradition indigenous dances they learned in school honoring the seasons and the four elements of the earth. They only ever danced in the kitchen, though, and never around other people until one big family birthday party.
We were over at my host grandparents’ house one Sunday for lunch and a 3-year-old birthday party for one of the cousins before all going to afternoon services together. We had lunch and cake and were listening to music when the grandparents left for church. The rest of us stayed behind to clean up, which somehow morphed into a dance party. The adults were giggling, and the kids were dancing and jumping around like they do, stealing glances at the adults to see if they would get reprimanded. Eventually some of the aunts and uncles began dancing and after an hour or so we were all twirling around and laughing and I found myself totally swept up in the moment and euphoria of dancing.
I hadn’t moved my body like that in years. I had become self-conscious and controlled since my adolescence. In Guatemala, though, while stumbling through Spanish, relying on others to help me with everything, not cooking for myself or knowing how to “succeed” at my job, my put-together veneer fell away and I was left with only myself, feeling totally exposed yet still loved. It was in this feeling of vulnerability and being loved by my host community that I remembered how to dance again. My host family loved me into dancing again.
Now accepting applications for the 2015/2016 YAV year.
Consider encouraging someone you know to apply today.
YAV 2015/2016 Deadlines:
Round 1: December 1, 2014
Deadline for National Sites
Round 2: February 1, 2015
Application Deadline for National and International Sites
(NOTE: Round 2 is the only deadline for International Applications. Applications completed after February 1 are still eligible for service at one of our 15 national sites.)
Round 3: May 1, 2015
Deadline for National Site Applications Only
Contact the Young Adult Volunteer Office (800) 728-7228, x5024 or email@example.com if you have any ...
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I would never have imagined in 2008, when I went to the PCUSA General Assembly as a Youth Advisory Delegate (YAD), that I would be going back in 2014 as a YAV (Young Adult Volunteer).
My perspective was so different then. I was living in San Juan and just graduated from college. This time around, I went after living and serving in Miami for about 10 months.
There were many significant moments that made me feel grateful for all the experiences and opportunities that God has given me throughout these past months. Other moments were definitely challenging.
It was meaningful ...