Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) blogs

A Year of Service

Subscribe to this blog feed icon

Join us on Facebook   Follow us on YouTube   Follow us on Twitter   View on Instagram  

About this blog

Next #YAVAchat: May 15
(8pm EST; 15th of every month)
Storify of April's Chat

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 have more questions, feel free to email.



YAV Blogs

Recruitment Report Form


YAV Stories Published Online:

     Along the Border: PCUSA News Service

     Emma Randles (Austin): Grassroots Leadership

     Becca Messman (Guatemala): Outlook

     Colleen Earp (NOLA): Unbound

     Lives Set on New ‘Routes’: Unbound

     Dan Bohnker (Little Rock): PDA 

     Abby Miller (Peru): YAV Blog

     Joy and Han in Korea: PCUSA News Service

Recent posts



See all PC(USA) Blogs

PC(USA) Home

April 10, 2015

Construyendo un ambiente adecuado en La Oroya

“Building a better environment in La Oroya”

By Joe Tobiason

Holy One, you listen to the desires of those who suffer.
    You steady their hearts;
you listen closely to them,
     to establish justice
        for the orphan and the oppressed,
Psalm 10:17-18

I spent a lot of my YAV year working in a town called La Oroya, 13,000 ft up in the Andes.  The town is contaminated from the smoke released by a smelter that has been operating since the early 20th century.  My job was to help lead a kids group that would skype with an elementary class in New York and discuss life.  We also used small video cameras to help the Oroyan children tell the stories of life in their town. Our first flip cameras had arrived and together we began the process of learning to use them well.  I am decently adept at my camera work, but really hadn’t done a ton of video.  So, admittedly, I was learning as I was teaching.  We worked through basic steps of beginning each clip with a few seconds of nothing to enable the editing to happen and then doing the same at the end.  

We began by describing an object.  The kids each took a turn with the camera.  Each one held the on button on the top of the camera, aimed it at the subject and pushed the red record button.  We had gone over the instructions of “Prende, espere uno, dos, tres, habla” or “turn on, wait one, two, three, speak.”  Though we’d tried to make sure these guides were carried out in silence, nearly every video ended with a simple count of “Uno, Dos, Tres.”  

From the mouths of children you have laid a strong foundation.
– Psalm 8:2 – 

I loved these videos, not because they were incredibly well put together or well scripted.  The kids were awkward and didn’t like talking, but that was the whole point.  They were not camera ready, neither as cameramen or as reporters.  They weren’t ready to tell their story.  They were kids who had grown up in impoverished towns and prior to this group, had shot one or two frames of a film camera.  But, behind nervousness, their pride and their love of their town came out.  It was growing, but just not on the surface quite yet.

Fast forward a few months and the sounds of “What is the meaning of Earth Day?” rang around the streets of La Oroya. On one of our first excursions away from the Filomena offices, with t-shirts of their newly printed logo, balloons on a stick (because no one uses helium in Peru) and a banner depicting the “Construyendo un ambiente adecuado en La Oroya” (Building a better environment in La Oroya),  the children sang a song at the city hall.  It was really special to see how they had moved from being nervous kids asking about life in New York through skype to the group that was proud to fight for their town before us.  

After the song, they took to the streets with the cameras, asking everyone on the streets what Earth Day meant to them and how they could imagine a better version of their La Oroya.  I loved seeing the seriousness that the kids took it and the way that they were embraced by the locals walking through.  Change was happening.


March 31, 2015

Discernment Event 2015 Photos


Read more →

March 16, 2015

YAV Discernement Event 2015

Thanks everybody for a great Discernment Event. Check out the twitter feed to look back on some of the moments from this year's event:
Also, read a blog post from Little Rock-YAV Molly, about the event.

Read more →

March 3, 2015

As You Prepare for Discernment

As you prepare for Discernment: Thoughts from a recent YAV Alum

Hello all! To those planning on heading to the Discernment Event in Little Rock we’re excited to meet you. David Wigger (YAVA, Kenya 11/12) recently asked me to share my experience with a potential YAV considering serving in Peru. Although my experience is site-specific (as all YAV years are), David imagines all considering a year of service might benefit from a short read about a YAV year. David asked me to share ...

Read more →

February 15, 2015

What does it mean to do mission outside your community?

by David Wigger, YAVA-Kenya 2011-2012

 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” 
-Philippians 2:3-

Before you read, please watch this short New York Times Video by Boniface Mwangi: “An African’s Message for America”, and listen to his message to American service volunteers.

“You don’t know those people, they don’t know you.”

“You are not going there to save anybody, you are going there to save yourself”

“Africa doesn’t need a savior.”

“Why are you doing it?”

These are just a few of the challenges Mwangi gives us. And as an organization that’s sole purpose ...

Read more →

previous 1 2 3 4 5 6