Adjusting to Life as a Grace Presbytery YAV

Three members of Grace Presbytery are a few months into their new lives as PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteers (YAV). They may be serving in different locations, but their stories of adjustment are similar as they settle into their new environments.

Emily Mikhail of West Plano Presbyterian Church is serving in Chicago, Illinois; Ekama Eni of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Denton is serving in Glasgow, Scotland; and Rachel Crilley of Grapevine is serving in Daejeon, South Korea. They all arrived at their YAV locations in late August or early September as part of their one year of service. They described their early experiences as enlightening and surprising as well as frustrating and worrisome.

Emily Mikhail’s service in Chicago is with a long-term shelter to help people experiencing poverty and homelessness. While she was happy to help her clients, she learned quickly that many people need more help than is available.

“It’s been both enlightening and frustrating,” Mikhail said. “Chicago is a city with a lot of
need and not a lot of resources. There are a lot of nonprofits doing the best they can, but they’re limited by space or resources for how many people they can help. Overall, I’m very glad I can be involved in the good work my placement does.”

Ekama Eni is serving with Colston Milton Parish Church, assisting communities facing high levels of urban deprivation that have been identified as Priority Area parishes. Eni said she was especially impressed with the Milton Arts Project, which provides guitar and song-writing lessons, and Just Like Us, a mental health “drop-in” location for those in recovery.

“One of the most striking things about my experience so far is how much the church is doing,” she said. “The amazing people in this community had a vision for services not being provided, so they endeavored to make these necessities a reality. The Church of Scotland is the national church of the country and it’s fascinating how that has impacted the fabric of this country and even more specifically, the city of Glasgow.”

Rachel Crilley was worried about moving to South Korea. She had never been outside the United States and was concerned about adjusting to a new culture, new language, and surroundings. She is learning Korean and while she said that has been frustrating, she is learning a lot, about her new home and about herself.

“The YAV experience for me has been learning and growing one,” she said. “The biggest thing that being in Korea has taught me is despite how many differences we as people have we are all connected in one body of Christ as children of God. And that makes us more united as people than any differences could separate us.”