Sunday, October 2, 2011

Year of Service Interview: Australia

The following is the first of many interviews to come with other youth around the world who have been on a year of service. I post these interviews specifically for other youth contemplating doing their own year of service who don't know yet where they want to go or if they should go. The interviews hopefully shed light on some of the questions that arise for those seeking the life-changing adventures that a year of service can offer.

The Baha’i youth featured in the below interview chose to serve for a year in Australia. She is now in college and serving her community in Colorado. I know you will enjoy her comments and insights into the true meaning of service.

Youth serving at the House of Worship in Australia

1. What drew you to Sydney, Australia as a place to serve?
When I was looking for places to serve, I really wasn’t set on anywhere specific. I knew I wanted to go internationally, but I didn’t know where. So I started with Google, and looked up “Baha’i youth year of service”. As I was reading through the lists, Australia just seemed to keep popping up. So the more I thought about going to Australia, the more I liked the idea. I looked online at the Australian Baha’i National website, and found the application, and applied. The next thing I knew I had a phone interview and was accepted to serve. I felt that it being such a smooth process was a confirmation of my choice to go to Sydney.

2. How has your life changed as a result of service?
Everything about my life changed after my year in Australia. After high school, I needed a break from school, and I had heard so many wonderful stories from friends that had done a year of service, and how life changing it was for them. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I decided to take the risk and travel all the way across the world by myself. By being able to dedicate my full time to service, I was able to see the true necessity of a community based on service to each other. Since I was at a Baha’i House of Worship in Sydney, I was able to pray there every day and contemplate about my life and future. As my year in Australia drew to a close, I realized how much I had grown in that year and become more aware of my own personal strengths and weaknesses. Also, being able to travel outside of the country I had grown up in gave me a better view of the world around me.

3. What was the greatest test you faced and how did you overcome it?
For me I didn’t really have one big test that I had to overcome. There were some conflicts that arose while being in a small house with seven other girls, but those were resolved through communication and organization. I guess another thing that was stressful for me was the fact that my plan for school after Australia completely changed while I was there. So instead of knowing exactly what I was doing when I got back to the U.S., I had to figure it out while I was still in Australia. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like a huge test, but I know while I was there it was definitely stressful.

4. What was your happiest moment on your year of service?
I distinctly remember going into the House of Worship by myself at night, and just the feeling of peacefulness and serenity I will never forget. Being able to go and say as many prayers as I wanted, and just being able to feel that spirit was such a beautiful thing. I can remember a specific time when my service had reached an especially stressful point, and I went and said the Tablet of Ahmad on each of the nine sides. As I continued to pray I could feel my worries and fears just melt away.
To be continued….

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