[Written by Luke Rembold, Tucson YAV 2010-2011 and current member of the YAVA Leadership Council]
I remember I first heard of the YAV program when a girl probably 7 or 8 years older than me at my small-town church signed up for a YAV year in Uruguay, then re-upped the next year to go back! I was drawn to any program that could get me overseas, closer, to my middle-school eyes, to the issues that really mattered.
The YAV program came up again when I attended the Presbyterian Youth Triennium as a high school student. A YAV alum spoke of his time in Kenya, capturing the entire gathering with his stories and honesty. At that point I remember I obtained a packet on the YAV program, giving more details, including a synopsis of each site available and the jobs you could engage in at each site.
I probably looked at that packet once a year for the rest of high school, but it got left at the bookshelf at home when I went to college. My first Christmas home, however, I found the packet once again staring out at me. I thumbed through it, imagining myself in Egypt, the Philippines, or Kenya. Always exotic, always romantic.
When I reached my senior year of college, I thought of the YAV program. It had sat there so long, always present, that I strongly considered it as a post-graduation plan. But I was tired of commitments. I wasn’t ready to commit to a year with any program. I spent a year wandering.
But in that year wandering, I heard from friends who were doing the YAV program. I was by that point back in my college town, helping coach the college tennis team. It was fun, but lacking purpose. My friends in the YAV had found some sort of purpose and meaning. I had not.
I applied and ended up a YAV in Tucson–not as exciting or daring as those YAVs heading to Africa or Asia, but I still found purpose…a sense of meaning I’ve been following ever since.
Where would I be if no one had steered me towards that YAV program? I’m so thankful that I eventually found my way! If you can think of anyone that might embrace the simplicity, struggle, and fun of being a YAV, plant the seed no matter how young they are! And if they are old enough to apply, send them to http://www.pcusa.org/yav