Fighting Poverty with Passion
“A good place to be is in the challenge circle,” she said. It was my second day into my first job in college. The challenge circle, the group leader went on to say, is where growth happens. It is where you find out what you are made of.
Whenever I’m embarking on something new, I always go back to this day.
For the last month, I have been perpetually living in the challenge circle as I have begun my life in a new city and a new state almost 3,000 miles away from home. Here, there is a new culture with new people, new customs, and new festivals. I am also navigating a new chapter in my life where I do not have classes and I am not worrying about readings and homework and tests all the time; I am instead settling into the newness of a 9-to-5 job. The challenge, however, does not end with the newness.
The first day I walked into my site, I found out there had been a conflict between two of the women living in the house. Finding out about this incident seemed to be the catalyst to a number of other things. That first day I felt like I was drowning in information—about what I will be doing, about the program, and about the women I will be serving. I felt like I was thrown into the trenches and I had not officially started my AmeriCorps year of service yet. It has been a humbling experience as I am increasingly reminded of how much I do not know and how much I have not experienced. I can tell already that this year is going to be challenging on an emotional level, especially for the empath in me.
For this year, I also know that it is going to be a challenge intellectually. Already, I have learned more about human trafficking than I thought possible in two weeks, and I have also learned more about poverty in New Orleans, especially in the context of Katrina. More importantly, though, I am learning more about the people: locals in the city, the women at my site, and the group of VISTAs I will be sharing this experience with.
The Challenge Circle can certainly be overwhelming when you are in it all the time, but as I’m settling into the newness and fitting into a routine of walking to the office or finding the right grocery store, I am comforted by the fact that I am working with an amazing organization doing great work with an amazing team.
I’m excited to see how this year will stretch me, and I most certainly look forward to the challenge.