Thursday, September 22, 2016

Benedictine Women Service Corps Volunteer Erin Carey's Fun Experiences in Mount Saint Benedict, Erie, Pa.

BWSC participant Erin Carey

I’ve learned many things after moving into Mount Saint Benedict in Erie, Pa. While I’ve only been here for three weeks, I’ve compiled a list of what I’ve learned so far. 
  1. Most people are not as excited about planes taking off as I appeared to be on my first flight. While looking around excitedly as we rose into the air, looking for someone to share my joy and awe, the man next to me was already asleep and the woman next to him was engrossed in her book. I suppose nerves and excitement about my first flight were a bit amplified for me. Luckily, after Bethany and Mo got me to my gate everything went smoothly and I found out that I enjoy flying. Hooray!
  2. If you live in Erie, you are not really a resident until you have smelled … THE GRAPES. Being so close to the lake has its perks. One of which is being close to the grapes fields, which this time of year smell sweet and taste delicious! Another perk of living in Erie: the lake. During my first few weeks, Jessica, a volunteer from Mexico who is also staying here at the Mount, and I got to go to the beach a few times for a swim in Lake Erie. The lake is also home to some stunning sunsets!

  3. Notre Dame Football is a big deal. Also, I recently found out that I am a Pittsburg Steelers fan. (There may have been some arm twisting here.)The Benedictine Block, also known as E. 10th Street, has become my home away from home ... away from home. This is where many of the sisters’ ministries are located, including St. Benedict’s Education Center and the Neighborhood Art House.
  4. Refugees have wide smiles and inspiring stories, despite the difficult lives they’ve led. I spend my mornings tutoring refugees one on one with conversational English, reading and math. These people from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, the Congo, Bhutan and Nepal are examples of the Benedictine values of work, community and hospitality. They work together to understand another language and culture, while providing for their children and families in a foreign place. The refugees and teachers also welcomed me into their classes and community with care.
  5. Music and laughter are a basis of communication at the Art House. I teach a general music class and assist in art classes and tutoring. For students who do not speak English, and for those who do, my class has used music, along with a lot of giggling, to make students feel comfortable around each other and comfortable making music in our little classroom. We’ve been drumming, marching to the beat, playing percussion instruments and singing.
  6. Community life is hard work! With prayer, mass, meals, ministry and now Schola practice, time each day seems to slip away! I cherish the time spent in the quiet of chapel with the sisters. (How could I not, with a view of this stained glass!)
The list could go on, but I have enjoyed settling in to Mount Saint Benedict, getting to know the community and the people who I serve and am served by every day. I am looking forward to the rest of my journey in the coming months!
Peace and prayers,

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