By Lindsay Barrett-Adler
"What do people do after Servant Year?" This is one of the most common questions asked during initial interviews and throughout the Servant Year experience. Here's the data answer:
Snapshot of Servant Year's Class of 2013-2014
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (M.D.)
Yale Divinity School (MDiv)
University of Pittsburgh (MSW)
University of Maryland (PhD)
Cairn University (MEd)
Bethesda Project (Case Manager)
Second Year Servant Year Fellows:
St. James School (Volunteer Coordinator)
Episcopal Mission Center (Coordinator)
Good Shepherd Volunteers (Thailand)
Word Made Flesh (Argentina)
For me, the question is more interesting when thought about theologically. Vocation is not just the data of a career or the title on someone's business card. John Neafsey writes, "Vocation is less about the particular things we do and more about the spirit with which we do them." How will the Servant Year experience influence members to act differently toward God, themselves, and the world?
We hope that after Servant Year, members will "do" reflection. Throughout the year, we gathered to reflect on our experiences and delve deeper into our world's brokenness. We learned about human trafficking, addiction, and poverty. Unsatisfied with the quick, easy answers often provided, we asked what was going on below the surface. How can we best report suspected human trafficking if we are unsure that victims will not be prosecuted? Are there any universal maxims across societies and communities, or are every society's values contextual?
We hope that members will "do" community and simplicity. Every member of the program learned to live on a $500 monthly stipend while working alongside extremely impoverished populations making much less. We gathered for weekly potluck meals and monthly program dinners, getting to know each other more fully. How will the experience of stares and disapproving looks when using EBT/food stamps shape our ideas of poverty and food justice? We have talked about opening ourselves up more fully to others and healing old wounds...are we still allowing ourselves to be fragile and vulnerable, trusting others to be loving and kind?
Finally, we hope that members will "do" service. We hope that Servant Year members have formed meaningful relationships with their clients, students, or guests. Each member volunteered over 1,700 hours this year at St. James School, Bethesda Project, St. Mark's Church, The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Diversified Community Services, Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative, St. John's Episcopal Church in Norristown, and Covenant House. That's nearly 20,500 hours total!
What do people do after Servant Year? As Frederick Buechner so beautifully puts it, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
Lindsay serves as Program Director and Associate for Young Adult Ministries.