By: Nikki Munsayac
I just came back from the Loretto Mid-Year Retreat and had a lot of time to reflect since starting this service year six months ago (and wow time definitely flies quickly). We spent Sunday and Monday at Rockhaven Ecozoic center in House Springs, Missouri and I have to say- it’s one of my favorite places to disconnect here in the Midwest.
Here’s what I came to realize:
I have done a pretty good job balancing work and fun. Work wise- it’s been amazing! Every day is a different day, some are slower than others and it has taught me to appreciate my down time. Other days I’m jumping from meeting to meeting or sporadically being paged by a staff member. I’m definitely utilizing my degree in Health Science and all the skills I learned from my previous non-academic commitments in college as a facilitator and a mentor. As for fun, I spend my time binge watching TV shows (of course) like How To Get Away With Murder and Grey’s Anatomy, exploring local bookstores, coffee shops, museums (which are free!!), brunch diners, going to concerts, and traveling! I’ve visited/driven through about six states and in a few weeks I’ll be flying to New York for the first time!
Participating in a service year was the best next step for me after college. People often times mislabel service years as a “gap year” and to be honest- I don’t think I would have learned all the things I know now if I didn’t apply to service programs last year. I learned: how to live more independently from my family, how to live in various amounts of climates and weather conditions, how to make connections in an unfamiliar place, living a healthier lifestyle (for my mind, body, and soul), how to cook for myself and my housemates, to be better about doing my chores. All of this, I believe, will only prepare me for the next steps I plan for myself.
Living in community has shaped me to become a better person. I’m very grateful to live with such a vibrant supportive empowering group of individuals. We all come from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. Sharing a safe space and community with them for the past six months has been life changing. For instance, we started the Whole30 diet a few weeks ago and it is helping us eat a healthier lifestyle. I’m Type One diabetic and within the first week I noticed a difference in my blood sugar. I’m not injecting as much insulin with every meal because I’m not eating as much carbs. It’s great and definitely worth the transition! Another thing my community has empowered me to do is attend protests. We’ve participated in a few such as one after Trump was elected, the Women’s March, and the one at Lambert Airport to voice against the Muslim ban. I’m so glad to be carrying out this journey with them and I know for a fact saying goodbye will not be easy come July.
Moving forward, I hope to continue cherishing the time I have left here in St. Louis and all the people I have encountered and those I’ll be meeting from now until July.
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.