Today marks, for many current YAVs, a significant transition: They will be finishing their time of service in their placement, and beginning the journey back home (true, some have already done this, others will be doing so in the next weeks, but you get the idea).
But this also begs a question, one that most of us YAV Alumns have struggled with in the past: What, exactly, is now ‘home’? The YAV who return are not the same people as the ones who went out nearly a year ago. New experiences and perspectives have changed them, and brought them to new awareness in this world. Many of the people they will encounter, familiar and unfamiliar, will not immediately be able to recognize this; the stereotype that volunteers have been ‘off playing’ for the past year exists with its roots in reality.
Thankfully, the YAV program does not leave these former-volunteers in this place, but is designed to support them through the transition, and hopefully, give them the resources to help answer the above question. Primarily through the Transition Event in September, but also through the support of fellow YAVA and Deacons, newly returning volunteers will find that, at the very least, they are not alone, nor are they the first to face this stage of the journey.
I encourage you, if you know a YAV or of a YAV nearby, reach out to him or her, and offer your presence, welcoming them all into the community of Alumni. It can mean all the world! And offer up a prayer for these returning volunteers, thanks for their time of service and the relationships they’ve built, guidance and discernment for their future. And perhaps, while you’re at it, remember your own time of transition, and where you’ve come since…