BY JAX VITEZNIK
I have always found it difficult to visualize anything new. When I first applied to the Loretto Volunteer program and accepted my placement with Loretto at the UN, I had no idea what to expect. It was my first time living outside of the Pacific Northwest, my first time working a full 40 hours, and the first time I was encountering adult life outside of college. But as I reflect on all my anxieties about the unknown, it is hard to remember. The Ford House, Denver, and Loretto feel like home now. My volunteer year feels like the most natural progression from leaving college and seriously considering how to shape my future with social justice, sustainability, and solidarity in mind.
Living in an intentional community has been the most lively and loving living situation that I have encountered. I imagined it was going to be similar to any roommate situation I had in the past, but I have found it to be a thoughtful and honest support system. Denver has also become a familiar place that I enjoy more than I expected too. I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of living in a place so close and connected to nature. But I have also been challenged by city living. I have seen the very palpable gentrification in the city and our Ford House neighborhood. Riding the bus around the city has shown me the two sides; as I wait for the bus in a still-developing public transportation system that primarily serves the BIPOC population, I am consistently passed by Teslas and SUVs. I also consistently encounter unhoused people and have been trying to unlearn my biases from growing up in a city with a similar housing crisis. Denver is a fun city to be in, but it is also a city that has made me grow in my understanding of how the city works and treats its citizens.
Another city that opened my eyes was New York City during my Loretto at the UN trip. It was thrilling to be in such and big and iconic city, and I felt incredibly proud of the fact that I had made it to Manhatten, even if it was for short time. Beth Blissman has been an exceptional mentor while I have been placed and working hard at Loretto at the UN. My trip to NYC was filled with our preparation for the International Day of the Girl, but also with many meetings and encounters with seasoned NGO Representatives from similar Catholic organizations as well as many partners from our Interfaith groups and associations. Loretto at the UN has been an incredible experience for me, allowing me to continue my major in International Relations with a focus on advocating for issues that matter deeply to me, such as girls’ education and climate change. I gained practical knowledge of the very complex UN, and am looking forward to the spring when the campus is hopefully open to civil society and can dream of the day I may work in those buildings.
Jax Viteznik (she/her) grew up in Portland, OR and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. She is looking forward to her time and Denver and hopes to expand her role as an intersectional feminist, focusing on reproductive rights, racial justice, disability accessibility, and sustainability. Jax loves to travel and meet new people, but as an introvert at heart, she also loves to read, write, and spend time with her dog.
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In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.