Serve Well Blog
This group, including four Krista Colleagues (Claire Smith '12, Kara King ‘06, Karolina Wright-Williams, ‘01, and Angie Merrill, '05), gathered together in Fremont for three full days of questions, creativity, reflection, and skills-building with First Aid Arts. The training centered on the Healing Arts Toolkit (HAT)- a box with an abundance of art supplies and facilitator resources - and encouraged participants to reflect deeply upon trauma-informed care, engage in arts-based therapeutic activities, design culturally appropriate adaptations, and practice self-care in a variety of settings.
Krista Colleagues (from left): Angie Merrill '05, Karolina Wright-Williams '01, Claire Smith '12, and Kara King '06
Some of the thoughts shared by the Colleagues that attended:
Why did you want to participate in this training? What goals or hopes did you bring with you?
I wanted to participate in the First Aid Arts HAT Training because the more I work with clients who have experienced trauma, the more I recognize how much we carry that trauma in our bodies and how it is not always accessible verbally. I believe art, in all forms, is a powerful modality for healing and I want to learn more as a therapist in how to use these tools with my clients.
~ Karolina Wright-Williams
I came into this training for myself and for the Krista Foundation. I, personally, wanted to build some arts-based healing skills to (hopefully) use in a future, as-yet-unknown job, and I also wanted to bring the skills into the KFGC. Many Colleagues could use these resources in their service and work, so I wanted to make the toolkit and knowledge available. Also, I think that, in their lives of service leadership, Colleagues need to tend our resilience and heal from traumas (both direct and vicarious) that we have experienced. As the Service Ethics coordinator on the Colleague Council, I approached the training as a tool to share so that we can all serve well. ~Claire Smith
What did you appreciate about it? Highlights? Challenges?
I appreciated the focus on the training objectives - Emotion regulation, Self-awareness, and Interpersonal skills - and the time taken to reflect on how they are being achieved in each activity.
~ Angie Merrill
Part of the training was learning to find and use the "lowest level of creative risk" to begin our activities, thus giving more people the ability to engage. In my work with young adults who have suffered complex trauma, this facilitation technique is going to be so helpful. It gives access to people who may otherwise disengage (for many motives) a door into the activity. Because we not only learned about the activities, but participated in them, I was able to have this experience myself - and that lowest level of risk allowed me to take deeper risks as we moved further into the training.
What "take aways" did you gather? Skills? Moments? Ideas? Insights?
Something we did in the workshop was to shout out, "Arugula!" when a mistake was made, and this was an experiential reminder to celebrate failure as a community and to normalize mistakes. Part of my work is loving our kids and caring for them during the day, so I hope to translate this idea and to create a word for our family to use, both as a way to teach our kids this concept and to remind us as parents to model that.
I was reminded, again, of the importance of choice for survivors of trauma. Choice is embedded in the Toolkit activities, and I am reminded to be intentional in offering choice as we move through these activities which can bring up so much for survivors.
What does Resilience mean to you? Why does it matter?
I see resilience as both the capacity to endure/survive and the ability to return to a place of stability. I think of a line from Jane Hirschfield's poem, "...the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side, it turns in another." Resiliency is not an easy road and often involves pain and working through the hard stuff.
I think of resilience as the miraculous ability that humans have to recuperate and regain balance in the midst of crisis. I believe we all have it throughout our lives, and it can be tended with self-care and community support. It matters for individuals and communities because it keeps us from breaking under the weight of the world, and it matters for organizations because it is a reminder to honor the strength and spirit of those being served, and to conduct service in a way the supports the rebuilding of self instead of re-traumatizing.
The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship now has a First Aid Arts toolkit, which we will be incorporating into events for Colleagues and checking out to Colleagues with prior therapy training.
Keep an eye out for more resilience, trauma-informed care, arts-based healing, and trainings coordinated by KFGC's Service Ethics team
Witnessing the impact of these sustained relationships has increased Richard’s regard for mentors and the Krista Foundation program’s multi-year peer mentoring program. “I am excited that there is another organization wanting to make a long-term commitment to help young adults. I really appreciate how faith is integrated into the [Krista Colleague] program itself. I’m in that process now, trying to understand how faith plays a role in my life.” As he journeys with the Krista Foundation, Richard will be discerning how his architecture practice can serve low-income communities, perhaps by building spaces using a collaborative, community-based approach.
A service year in Cairo, Egypt working with international students led Stephen Allen '05 to a career with humanitarian aid agencies. A decade later, he coordinates UNICEF's activities in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. Humanitarian work has its dark side, with cynicism and despair close at hand, especially when administrative demands mean little time with Syrians. "It's easy to come to [the refugee] camp, spend a few hours huddled with other humanitarians over cups of strong coffee talking...and then climb back in our SUVs and drive away," he says.
Stephen's antidote: the ethic of service he gained from the Krista Foundation. Instead of working on refugee issues, Stephen seeks to work with refugees to resolve issues: "Spending time with those you are serving and respecting them enough to listen, argue, disagree, and work together. And you can still do it over a strong cup of coffee."
2012 Krista Colleague Mike Davis spends his days equipping youth to use art to process trauma. Read how he's discerning his next step in growing his vision for service.
Because music got Mike Davis ‘12 safely through a rough adolescence, he's passionate about helping young people to engage, create, and communicate through arts and performance.
While serving with Urban Impact in Seattle, he began to see how the arts could go deeper. Many of the middle schoolers he worked with didn't know how to process their pain in a constructive way. Using hip hop, Mike saw firsthand how students could "get stuff out of them and into a song or a spoken word piece." Releasing their feelings through art helped them process trauma.
As well, students found in Mike a mentor who understood where they came from and what they were dealing with at home. As he writes in "Where I am from"
Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,
Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,
Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,
How come YOU get to and I can't,
From songs I didn't like but was forced to dance,
From, if another cop looks at me that way I'ma...
From, never mind, I'll just avoid that drama.
One day, a girl who had shared her journal with Mike--including an entry that talked of suicide--came to see her counselor. Told that the counselor was out, she asked to meet with Mike instead. You can't, was the reply-Mike is not certified.
"She needed someone, but on paper I wasn't certified to talk with her," Mike remembers.
Stung by the response, Mike enrolled in Bellevue College. But the road to credentials in art therapy would be long. Aiming for a graduate degree would mean "pounding it out for the next 8 to 10 years, doing my prerequisites and transferring to university."
And unlike many students, Mike's full-time studies joined an already long list of responsibilities as a full-time worker, musician, and dad to his 5 year old son.
A year into his studies, Mike began to wonder if this was what God had in mind for him. After wrestling with this question during the January Debriefing and Discernment retreat, Mike is choosing to put school on hold for now.
"I know what art and music did for me as a teen, so I want to connect performing art and visual art to help kids process major or minor trauma," he says. "That's still my vision, but God is calling me to pick another route, and it's slowly making sense."
During his six years in Seattle, Mike has built relationships with many different community organizations. Connected to faith-based and secular nonprofits as well as the public education system, he is well positioned to use the arts to make a difference in the lives of young Seattle residents.
Now a drop-in coordinator for the Seattle Union Gospel Mission's Youth Reachout Center, Mike thinks that the route God has in mind for him might be less traditional. "It's like God is saying, really experience this road instead of the one you would naturally take. I feel like if I am obedient to what God is saying, all these pieces will fall in place."
As part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Claire Smith '12 served domestic violence survivors in Oregon and was an academic assistant at a school on the Crow reservation in Montana. During service, she had many opportunities to build her intercultural competence. The Intercultural Development Inventory helped frame her growth.
Is cheese a staple kitchen ingredient, or a bonus item?
What about nori?
Questions like these peppered the early days of 2012 KF Colleague Claire Smith's life in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Gresham, Oregon.
While all seven housemates seemed to share similar backgrounds at first glance, "many tensions surfaced based around our assumptions and worldviews," she says. "It would have ended up being a tense community with lots of fights if we hadn't all wanted to lean in and figure out the reasons behind our differences."
More opportunities to practice relationship amongst differences arose on the job with Proyecto UNICA/Catholic Charities, where Claire worked with Latina women affected by domestic and sexual violence. And still more practice was called for during in her second Jesuit Volunteer year, while serving as an academic assistant at the Pretty Eagle School on the Crow Indian reservation near Hardin, Montana.
"Throughout all of these experiences, I was lucky to be surrounded by people who were willing to dig in to relationship and speak openly about cultural norms and values, but there were a lot of growing edges, and since the end of service, the Intercultural Development Inventory has helped me frame it."
During her pre-service orientation with the Krista Foundation, Claire took the 50-item inventory for the first time. As the inventory assessed her intercultural competence, it showed a gap between her ideals and her experience.
"I had the right answers in my head," Claire says, "but not a lot of experience living them out. Having to make a home in groups of people from different backgrounds gave me lots of practice, which was reflected when I took the IDI for a second time during the Winter Debriefing and Discernment retreat." The growth in her IDI helped Claire recognize the growth in her cross-cultural fluency and gave her a way of framing her service experiences. "It really helps me look with a clearer lens at where I've been and how I've grown."
Claire hopes to use the IDI tools more consciously in the future. She appreicates the way that it breaks down a person's relationship with cultures, and she sees it as a potential for larger scale development as well. "I think that using it in any group setting or as a facilitation tool would provide some useful shared language around issues that are critical for community, but often difficult to talk about."
Follow Claire's journey across cultures in her "Where I am from" poem, written during the Debriefing and Discernment retreat.
Before we can know where we are going, we need to recognize where we are from. At the Debriefing and Discernment Retreats, Krista Foundation Colleagues were invited to claim their roots and their present as they wrote poems prompted by the question, Where am I from?
Michael Davis, Justin Willis, Madie Padon, and Claire Smith share their responses here.
Where I'm From
The long lines of government assistance,
From the same line that formed my existence.
The lines that separated me from you,
The lines that labeled me as colored because you couldn’t accept my hue, truth.
Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,
Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,
Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,
How come YOU get to and I can’t,
From songs I didn’t like but was forced to dance,
From, if another cop looks at me that way I’ma…
From, never mind, I’ll just avoid that drama.
You’ll never go there, because where I’m from is nowhere,
Listen, I don’t think you understood me…
I’m from nowhere, no where you’re from
Or forsake the history from whence you come,
You wanna know where I’m from?
I come from long lines from which my history was hung
I come from the reminder of the history in which you shun.
Formerly director of the Leadership and Mentoring Program for Urban Impact in Seattle, Mike Davis ‘12 is now a drop-in coordinator for the Union Gospel Mission's Youth Center.
Where I'm From
I am from the beginning of the Nile with endless tilapia to dust filled roads where an oncoming truck meant you have to hold your breath for the next 2 minutes as it passed by.
Madie Padon '12 taught biology and science at the Holy Cross Schools near Lake Victoria in Uganda.
Where I'm From
I'm from the big leaf maple tree with the yellow slide and swing underneath,
From vegetable gardens and woodstoves,
Home cooking and families whose names are like legends in the Valley -- Zender, Strachila, Galbraith, Engholm.
I'm from 40 minute drives to "Town" to get groceries.
I'm from classical piano -- Mozart, Schubert --
From family outings to the city, to the theatre, to the aquarium,
From "Money can't buy you happiness, especially if you don't ever use it," and "Love is something if you give it away."
I'm from sit and stand in church.
Liturgies and Sunday School Songs,
Kyrie eleison and Vespers ‘86,
From Holden's Village Center ceiling and Railroad Creek footbridge.
I'm from the university.
From words like "juxtaposition" and "neocolonialism."
From "liminal spaces" and "intersectionality"
From walks around Spanaway Lake and late night runs to WinCo.
I'm from silent solidarity, staring at computer screens until our eyes blur and we have to dance around, singing in silly voices until we feel like humans again.
I'm from study away.
From papel picado, chicharrones, and tlayudas
From Día de los Muertos and drinking smoky, burning mezcal until I like it.
From being a güerra, güerra and a señorita.
I'm from misunderstandings and putting my foot in my mouth and talking around my meaning.
I'm from urban bike paths and taking the MAX.
From crisis lines and grupos de apoyo
From "1 in 3 women" and "You deserve to ALWAYS feel safe"
From trying to accompany, to create healing spaces
I'm from Big Sky and Big Horn Mountains
From pow wows and basketball tournaments
From "What kind of Indian are you?" and "Maaaaan, Teacher, you're mean!"
From trying to accompany, to create safe spaces
I'm from Ruined for Life
From tense grocery conversations and game nights
From dinner tables and cooking disasters
I'm from silent solidarity, trying to hold the woes of the world until our eyes blur and we have to dance around, singing in silly voices until we feel like humans again.
From strangers making a home together.
As part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Claire Smith '12 served domestic violence survivors in Oregon and was an academic assistant at a school on the Crow reservation in Montana.
Where I'm From
I'm from my childhood. Rain, rain, and more rain. The Pacific Northwest at its finest. The Olympics, the X-games, Major League Baseball. I am going to be there one day. Moving from city to city, new friends, new plans. Diversity and public education shaping who I am.
I'm from college. Deepened faith and silent retreats. Still one of the most moving things I have done. Sit with your thoughts and see what happens. Science, so much science. But also social justice. Social justice and science. Best friends, lost friends. Confusion, questioning, anger, pain. Discernment. Choosing what ultimately brought me most joy.
I'm from JVC Northwest. Conversations about 2% milk. Is this even important? Solidarity, social justice, spirituality, community. Mac Attack. Guy, Dave, Courtney, Eddy, Ben, Stephanie, Irena, Jordan, Nic, Todd, Julia, and so many more. Never getting the balance right. Inadequacy, regret, and many mistakes. But ultimately so much joy.
I'm from life after service. Stress about the future. Tests, tests, and more tests, and probably more tests after that. Being welcomed home by my parents. Surviving through adversity and coming out better on the other side.
Justin Willis '13 served in the Recuperative Care Program at the Old Town Clinic, working alongside Portland's homeless population.
The Krista Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 KF Annual Conference at Clearwater Lodge on Davis Lake (45 minutes NE of Spokane, WA).
When: Friday, May 22nd- Monday, May 25th, 2015
The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship 2015 Service Leadership Conference explores the theme "Yes! And...Tending a Life of Service Leadership." We'll apply the most basic rule of improve ("yes, and...") to the motivations of faithful service. After saying "Yes!" to a service year, adding an emphatic "AND" unleashes the possibilities for transforming service into a lifetime of service leadership.
What are you waiting for?! Please sign up to take advantage of this special opportunity to connect with and encourage young adults on their journey of service leadership!
Tamara Caruso ’11 first tasted the struggle being present and being productive during her two years of service in Grays Harbor, WA and Honduras. Now in her second year of teaching, she continually draws on what she learned about community and service during two years of service.
"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time, but if your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together."
This quote by Australian Aboriginal elder Lila Watson has become the driving force of my approach to service and working for change. It echoes as I look back over my service years as a Jesuit Volunteer in Grays Harbor, WA and as a teacher in Honduras.
Did I go to help? My original motivation for these years of service was to, as the JVC motto goes, “be ruined for life” and to find answers to my questions about how to work for positive change in our world. But in both experiences, I was at first hindered by my desire to be productive and make an impact.
My placement in Grays Harbor, one of the poorest counties in Washington, had a very vague job description, and besides coordinating an after school tutoring program, I found myself often bored and frustrated as I searched for meaningful work. I understood but had trouble accepting the value in commuting by public transit through the rain and snow for an hour and a half just to spend a half hour lunch with my middle school mentee. I went to numerous meetings at nonprofits and community organizations where I was never sure of my place but wished I had a purpose.
Feed the Hungry, a free lunch program my placement offered, taught me to embrace the work of just being present—of the Krista service ethic of “staying for tea.” There, I was able to cross the barrier between the volunteers in the kitchen and guests in the dining room. Instead of staying at my assigned volunteer post, I sat and ate lunch with guests, listening to their stories and building relationships. There, I learned how my liberation was bound up in theirs, and how we could serve each other. It came down to acknowledging the dignity in each other and to exposing my own poverty and isolation. The privilege of driving my own car from point A to point B and making or buying my own food and eating it wherever I choose keeps me confined in my own world. But in Grays Harbor, I was part of the community. I experienced and participated in the relationships among bus riders and drivers and I witnessed the family that was created through this communal free lunch. I also gained a deeper understanding of the history and complexity of this struggling town’s economic issues. All from just being present.
Although I learned a lot as a Jesuit Volunteer, I was left with even more questions about the injustices I experienced and felt overwhelmed about how one person could work for change within such a complex system. To continue exploring these questions, I served another year as a teacher at a Catholic bilingual school in Honduras. I thought I was bringing fewer expectations to my service, but this question of what I was doing met me square in the face when I finished grading the final exams for my first quarter. That night, I sat on the floor crying, feeling like I had failed my students because many did not pass my exams. Thankfully, an experienced friend helped me realize that the reason for not passing was less about my teaching and more about the broken education system and the challenges many students and families faced. My students were operating in their second language and lacked a solid educational foundation due to the instability of relying on mostly young, inexperienced volunteers as their teachers. At home they dealt with challenges ranging from family substance abuse to living with distant relatives because their parents were working in the states to help make ends meet.
Again, I found that by focusing on building and learning from relationships rather than productivity, I could grow in my understanding of the complex issues in Honduras, and be liberated by the people of Honduras from some of my own personal weaknesses and ways that my culture and upbringing held me back.
So now what?
I know that I have been ruined for life by encountering a multitude of complex issues and connecting with beautiful people who suffer as a result of these flawed systems. I often feel very overwhelmed when I reflect on these issues and cry out for mercy for these people whom I have grown to love, but don’t know exactly what I can do.
For the last year, I have been completely consumed by my first year of teaching. When I am in the classroom with my students, I am 100% present to them. While some teachers give assignments and let the kids work while they grade papers or answer emails, I am usually so wrapped up in my students and the learning that is happening that I totally lose track of time and end up rushing to wrap up class and get them out the door.
I have a wonderful opportunity to affect change by being present to my middle school students’ development and working to broaden their worldview. I hope to help them grow to become more compassionate, understanding, and able to bridge cultural and socioeconomic differences between people in our world. Not only do my volunteer experiences enter into my class discussions and interactions with students and staff, but they motivate me to evaluate my school's service program and figure out how to make it much more intentional. I would like to grow this program so we are not just raising money and goods, but are building relationships, learning about issues, and growing as individuals so our liberation may be bound up with those we are serving. I also want to incorporate reflection, discussions, and maybe research into these issues and communities we are donating to. I must make these service experiences matter, as an educator, by applying what I learned and sharing my understanding, in order to help lead my students to the same growth in awareness so that we are not just helping others, but walking alongside them.
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The Krista Colleague Cohort Program is the heart of the Krista Foundation. Nominated by community leaders, 17 young adult Krista Colleagues are selected each year. Colleagues are committed to a sustained period of voluntary or vocational service of at least nine months and motivated to serve by their Christian faith. The Foundation community journeys alongside Colleagues before, during and after service, empowering them to transform service experience into lives of service leadership.
Acceptance as a Colleague includes a $1,000 Service & Leadership Grant to be used at the intersection of vocational interests and commitment to serve. The Foundation pays for four years of the Krista Foundation annual Service Leadership conference and debriefing retreat. Additionally, each Colleague commits to serving as a peer mentor with future Krista Colleagues, developing global citizenship through leadership in retreats and conferences.
Nominations are due by March 20th, so nominate today!
Questions? Please contact Program Director, Stacy Kitahata
Please LIKE, POST, and SHARE this link with any potential nominators.
-The Krista Foundation
Arts & Culture
Children and Youth
Integrating Service As A Way Of Life
Peace & Reconciliation
Post-Service Term Reflections
Poverty: Urban US & International
Preparing To Serve
Transitions Home & Beyond