YAVA: Emily Miller
YAV Year: Miami 2005-2006
Now: YAV Office in Louisville, KY
What broke your heart?
The clear divide between the community where we lived and the rest of the area. When people found out where we lived, they often worried about my safety. At first I laughed it off (sadly not realizing they were serious). Then when I heard it more, I remember thinking and asking, “Why are you worried about my safety?” But eventually it hit me, and the questions became more intense. Are you worried because I’m a woman, and because I’m white in a community of people of color, who are predominantly migrant workers? Because of what preconceived notions others have about who my neighbors are? And then I had to also start confronting my own stereotypes. There’s a plethora of advice on how to deal with it when others’ break our hearts. But what about when you break your own heart? How do you rebuild your heart in a way that doesn’t forget who you used to be, but leads you into who you one day hope to be? My YAV year was the beginning of this lesson.
What made you laugh during your YAV year?
The youth at the church where I worked. One time, one of them had his headphones on, and he shouted “Emily, you HAVE GOT to hear this new band, they’re called ree-yo speedwagon!” I laughed so hard, and when I’d finally recovered I replied, “You mean REO Speedwagon?” That was one of those moments I’ll never forget.