Here is an update from our own Central YAV (young adult volunteer), Sarah Paulsen (parents Beth Johnson and Pete Paulsen, and sister in Peace Corps in Africa, Grace)
Being a Young Adult Volunteer means living a year you’ll never forget. What do YAVs do? They serve for one year in communities of need in the United States and around the world, and this is what Sarah has been up to:
“Greetings from the lovely rainy and cold Belfast! It’s been about 5 months since I first start my work here in Belfast as a PC(USA) YAV. Although I feel comfortable here, it never ceases to surprise me how a place that seems familiar is still so new and different to me. I do many different things here but mainly my work is with youth and children at Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church. Once a week I lead a Bible Study with members of the church. Currently we are studying the book of Matthew. Once or twice a week I do work called Detached Youth Work with the youth around the area. This means walking around the streets hanging out and engaging in conversation with the youth in the area that are drinking and doing drugs (it’s one of the harder parts of my week). One of my placements is The Vine Centre where I work in the morning with their Mums & Tots programme and then JAFFA (primary age) program in the afternoon. It’s a nice transition for me to go from the detached work on Tuesday night to the little ones on Wednesday mornings. They are so full of energy and life! Those toddlers sure know how to put a big smile on my face and show a sweet kind of love and acceptance to me.
On Thursdays I walk to Newington Day Centre for a full day with the people there. The walk to the centre has allowed me to see more of the area I live and work in. Newington Day Centre is a place for older people to go and be during the day, most of them come from the Nationalist community. On Thursday evenings I help out with the Anchor Boys Section (age 5-6) of Boys Brigade. This would be similar to our Boy Scouts. I mostly help with their Bible study and activities. One of the most experiential works I’ve been doing here is the Youth Club on Saturday nights. Our Youth Club is located literally on an interface. This means our building divides the community. The front door to the Macrory Halls leads to the Unionist Tigers Bay community (where our YC kids come from), while our back door leads out to the Nationalist New Lodge community. The Youth Club is a place for kids ages 8 and up to come hang out and spend time in a safe environment for a few hours. We run different activities for them like X-box, football games, and cooking lessons to help them build certain skills like team building. Sundays are a pretty relaxing day for me usually. My main responsibility lately on a Sunday has been helping to lead Bible Class. Our Bible Class currently is talking about Courage and what that means to have courage even when it’s not easy. Well as you can see I’ve been kept very busy these past few months and I look forward to sharing more of my experiences and lessons with you all when I return! Thank you for your support during my year of mission in Belfast.”