-Valentina O’Brien- A brief snap-shot of my life in New Orleans

As we move into 2013 and as the whirlwind of the holidays finally settles, I find myself, like so many other people, looking back at 2012. I’ve been in New Orleans for more than four months now, but (as cliche as it is to say), it feels like just yesterday that I was driving across the country to start my YAV year. So much has happened and changed in such a short amount of time. I wish I could share everything that has been happening, but that would be a very long post. Instead, I’ll just share five:

Our fall retreat to Tennessee: Back in November, our YAV family piled in the minivan and headed east to the mountains of Tennessee. It was the first time I really left New Orleans since moving in, and it was so refreshing. I almost forgot that all land wasn’t completely flat and that trees changed colors. The retreat gave us a much needed break from city life and work. It also let us bond as a group and reconnect with the Atlanta and Nashville YAVs. We had an awesome day hiking, s’more making, corn-holing, and worshipping together in the mountains.
Getting connected with LWP and Avodah: A great part of my year, has been meeting other young people doing similar programs in New Orleans. We’ve met up with Living With Purpose, the Episcopal service corps a few times for workshops, and even ran into them on Frenchman Street during New Year’s Eve (New Orleans is a smaller city than you would guess). We also went to a holiday party hosted by the Jewish service corps, Avodah. While it’s great to connect with other young adults doing mission work, it’s also just nice to make new friends.
Christmas Caroling in Jackson Square: Back in mid-December, the city hosted a huge caroling party in Jackson Square. I went with Nate and Chad and it was so much fun. The best moment was when both of the boys (without planning it) added a Ying-Yang-Twins-inspired “whoooop” at the same time while singing Rudolph. I enjoyed finally getting involved in the Christmasy spirit and seeing the square all decked out with candle light.
Playing Ticket to Ride with my housemates: The YAV house has recently become addicted to the board game Ticket to Ride. It’s a strategy game that involves building train tracks across Europe, and we take it very seriously. Hopefully once we all get back from the holidays we can start a tournament or something.
My job: I’m really happy that I can honestly say that my job is one of my favorite things about YAV. I work as a Village Manager at Project Homecoming. It is a faith-based organization committed to rebuilding homes and neighborhoods damaged by Hurricane Katrina. I work with all the volunteer groups that come to work with us from around the country. Things can get really busy (next week we have 116 volunteers working with us), but I have a variety of responsibilities that never get boring. Even though I am not actively building homes, I do know that I am making a difference for a lot of people in New Orleans.
I hope this post has given you a brief snap-shot of my life in New Orleans. Like I said, these are only five of many wonderful things about the NOLA YAV life

1 Comment

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One response to “-Valentina O’Brien- A brief snap-shot of my life in New Orleans

  1. Jill

    Is there a time at which it is appropriate and not snarky to say “I told you so!”? šŸ™‚ so glad you are having meaningful and fun experience!!

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