By Phoebe Lay, FC 22
By now, we’ve gotten into a pretty good weekly routine. Generally, I’ll wake up and take a quick shower at 8am (throwback to college when I vowed to never take an 8am ever again). If I want to work out in the morning, I’ll be up at 7:30 doing that, but otherwise I’ll just workout in the afternoon. After I get dressed, I’ll go downstairs to grab some breakfast. By 9am, I’m out the door with Elena to drive to our worksite at Northside CYO. Our commute is fortunately only about 5 minutes, so we like to listen to NPR’s “News Now” on Spotify. The podcast is only 4 minutes, so it fits perfectly into our daily commute – and it’s a good way to get a glimpse of any current events going on around the world.
Once we get to work, I walk up two flights of stairs to the top floor of CYO, where my desk is in the Employment Office. My daily tasks vary from day to day – I mostly work on job applications and getting paperwork sorted for refugees, but I’m also responsible for delivering Cultural Orientation presentations for newly arrived refugee families. Unfortunately, the presidential determination for the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States has dropped further and further in the last few years, with only 15,000 refugees allowed this coming year (contrast that to 150,000 in 2016). As a result, this means there are less families resettling in Syracuse and thus less families to provide services to (i.e. Cultural Orientation, trips to the DMV). For the refugees that are here, however, I’m able to give Cultural Orientation, help with employment, and work with them at the DMV to get their New York non-driver ID’s (and when they’re ready, their permit tests and driver’s licenses). On some days, I try to stop by downstairs to help Elena and Hannah– the Jesuit Volunteer Corps who also works with us– with the Youth Program, helping the kiddos figure out homework and navigating their online classes.
At home, I’ll change out of my work clothes and into something more comfortable. If it’s Tuesday, I’ll start prepping in the kitchen to make din! Otherwise, I’ll either fit in my workout, help whoever’s in the kitchen, or just chill out upstairs or in the living room. At dinner, I’ll snap a pic of the spread for our Insta (follow us @foodie_corps) before we feast together. After dinner, we play some jams while cleaning up and doing all the dishes…then head upstairs for some quiet prayer time. Afterwards, on most nights we’ll be back in the living room to watch something (we have our SNL Sundays/New Girl Mondays/Bachelorette Wednesdays TV schedule lined up) or every now and then some of us (@ me) will go back to my room to either call a friend or call-in to a meeting. Every day, it’s interesting to hear the different stories from everyone’s various worksites that day. This sounds so cheesy…but we’re not just roommates – we’re a community that is able to share in each other’s experiences and hold a deeper understanding of the day-to-day work we deal with. It’s really something special to be in an environment where your service, community, and faith are all intimately tied together.
On the flip side, it’s tough to feel like you’re not doing enough. The college culture I experienced revolved around glorified productivity and the game of staying busy. There was always a project to work on, an assignment to be done, an opportunity to be pursued. As you would imagine, there’s a level of imposter syndrome that becomes deeply ingrained in you after four years of that “go, go, go” experience. Following graduation and entering full-time service/work, there was such a shift in my work pace, and it was hard stepping away from all of that. It’s especially hard with COVID, as there are less clients able to be seen, and thus “less” hands-on work to do. While there is something special about trusting the process, it doesn’t come without feelings of stagnancy and the desire to do more than the circumstances currently allow.
As we head into 2021, I’m hopeful to see what other growth and learning is in store for me and the rest of the community!
Phoebe is a Refugee Orientation Coordinator at Northside CYO. Visit our service sites page to learn more about Phoebe’s site and others we offer.