Category Archives: New Orleans

Communication 101

The most important task I have at my job is “mingling” with the guests. Although seemingly easy, this is one of the harder parts of anyone’s experience at the center.  I thought I’d have this role in the bag because I love chatting it up with anyone and almost everyone.

But there are some conversational phrases that frankly suck when you work with the homeless population.

I’m a big fan of the following conversational openers: “How’s your life?”, “How are you doing today?”, “What was for dinner?”, “What did you do last night.”

Welcome to the awkward world of Miss Enlund, the volunteer.  I’ve quickly learned that these phrases just can’t be used at work.  They warrant some colorful answers occasionally, but often they just make you feel two inches tall and you have to creatively back out of the situation you walked into.

But thank the Lord for those with a sense of humor and the willingness to talk.

During these accidental moments is where I have found the great hope that made me fall in love with New Orleans.  The people here are so strong and so hopeful. I learn about the smallest things that impact their new lifestyles.  It’s in these conversations that they reflect on the circumstances that lead them to this point in their life and they talk about their change in perspective.

What’s really cool about my job is how these ice breaker conversations grow over time.  I think what is so unique about the center that I work at is the level or relationship between staff and guest.  There are guests that come around every so many months, there are daily guests, and there are “success-story” guests who come back for a visit or to say thank you.  The interactions between these guests and staff include conversations about family and specific memories. It really is so special to each of the guests that they have a connection with, at least, one person to realize that they are still cared about.

There is a group of gentlemen that have found one another and stick together.  They watch each others’ backs and have developed a great sense of camaraderie. Although they often arrive at the center in different waves, there is always a point in the day in which they are all together.  I have a great connection with each of them, but I love talking to them as a whole.  They bounce off one another and share their stories with such lightheartedness.  They all genuinely listen to each other as well.  I think it’s so beautiful that they’ve found each other because they are all from different states and each has a very different story.  Between them, however, is a beautiful understanding, level of trust, and almost a brotherhood.  They support each other and encourage the other to stay away from trouble and to do what they have to in order to move forward.

And they keep me in the loop…

I’m forever overwhelmed with the emotion of love for those I work with. I’m so grateful for this experience.

Until next time ;]
Miss Enlund

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Damnit! I lost the challenge…again.

And for that matter—the game.

I promised myself I would write more and share my experiences here in New Orleans.  I have failed in doing so thus far.  I will continue to challenge myself in bringing forward my story and the stories of those around me.

This last month has driven me crazy.  I realized that while I was at school I kept myself way busier than I had even realized.  In those four years I would lay down to go to bed…and I would go to bed. I was THAT tired. I was never plagued by this “mind running a mile a minute” nonsense before bed. How could I waste my time on reflecting and/or worrying?  In fact, I’m almost certain at the time I had thought I was bizarre because I never planned too far ahead or thought of anything outside of a four-week span.

LOL, hey there reality check.

I can’t even say that since my last post I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I think I’ve been struck with a real strong case of the feels. SO MANY DAMN EMOTIONS have been occurring. You name it, I’ve felt it:  Longing, sadness, anger, joy, elatedness, fear, anxiety, laziness, motivated, concern, fear, unwanted, fear..have I mentioned fear?!

I wish I could even voice what I’m afraid of. I can’t tell if it’s the future, the past, the present, the city, the people, the lack of a love life. Who knows?  Amidst all of that, I’m strangely happy.  I feel like I’m in the right place doing what I need to be doing.  Part of me wishes I was doing more, whatever more is. I keep reminding myself that it’s absolutely okay to have time to read leisurely.

So, I’m upping the challenge for myself. I tried to get myself into the routine of one blog post a week.   I think I’ll up it to two.  My hope is that the increased challenge will push me to write more. Here’s to writing and the feels.

Until next time ;]
Miss Enlund

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Rainy Days

One of the most fascinating things about New Orleans is the way it rains.  Often when it rains, it really does pour.  Giant drops cascade from the sky but the sun still remains visible.  This is what makes it so magical; the sun catches each drop and creates a gorgeous shimmering experience. This phenomenon has occurred almost every day since I’ve moved here (just two weeks ago).

Interestingly enough, the city never seems to be entirely under a rain cloud.  The first time I experienced the skies opening up, my roommates and I were across town.  When we arrived home (just a 15 minute drive) we learned that it hadn’t even rained by us.

Also, the weather forecast means zilch.  Regardless of the precipitation percentage, ITS GON’ RAIN!  This is probably due to the fact that we are technically in Hurricane Season (although we haven’t—thankfully—experienced any threatening weather, yet).  This northerner, however, is overly captivated by the weather.

Check out the video and enjoy the lovely sounds of the rain! http://instagram.com/p/dyJIcVSxZb/#

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Four guys and two little ladies

So more on my current living situation

I’m 22, just graduated from college and I live with one of my best friends and four other guys. The thing is, three of those guys are over the age of 65 and are committed to religious life.

Now one might ask, “Why in God’s name are you living with 3 OLD MEN?!”

I am one of the proudest alumnus of Iona College (Class of 2013), which is a small private institution that was founded by the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers.  For a long time Iona was run by the Brothers and almost every one of them have studied at Iona.  A few still teach and many of the Brothers still live in community around the campus.  This is how I was introduced to this congregation.

I wanted to do a year of service (specifically in New Orleans) after I went on a Mission Trip through my school in 2012. The city is unlike any city I’ve been to and the people are so…there just isn’t a word to describe the wonderful people of Naw’lins. While on the trip, we visited the house that I am now living in.  We learned that the three Brothers open their home and life of community to three volunteers each year. I knew that evening we’d met them that I would be a volunteer in that house one day.

So now, here I am.  The other boy I live with is also an Iona grad.  In fact, he was my Mission Trip leader and he moved down here last year to volunteer.  He loved it so much so that he stayed for round two.  Most of what I’ll be talking about from now on will be anecdotes of life with three Christian Brothers, the service that I’m taking part in, trials and tribulations of living on the Big Easy, and (of course) mentions of Justin Timberlake.

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Post-Grad Probs

What did you do after you graduated college?

I went home for three weeks (the longest amount of time I had spent in my home in three years).  Attempted to visit the local watering hole and realized that I’m just not about that life anymore.

Then I went to work for a summer camp of sorts.  I pictured it being an UH-MAZING summer job; hanging out with foreign kids, running around New York City, and giving them a remarkable and memorable experience in the states.  I would blog about our travels and the funny misunderstandings that inevitably take place between a kid from Estonia and a kid from Brazil.  Most of the above happened minus the blogging.  I didn’t expect the job to be so damn exhausting.  I also didn’t expect to have a staff that partied just as hard as they worked (which I’m insanely thankful for). This part of my summer ended all too quickly, unfortunately.

So I went back home for three weeks (as if I didn’t hate the first go around enough—sorry Mom). I focused on prepping for my second trip to the Legends of the Summer Tour with mi madre and finishing up the masterful artwork that is my walls. I also spent a lot of time freaking out and essentially hating the fact that I was no longer in college.  I think I spent a week in my room…straight.  I should have spent more time packing and prepping for the MOST GIGANTIC MOVE OF MY LIFE…at least thus far.

Just about a week ago I flew down to New Orleans to begin my year-long commitment to service and living in community with three Edmund Rice Christian Brothers.  In my last posting about people having the control over decisions, that’s what I was referencing. I’m an absolute weirdo, so I don’t often talk about big situations when they’re brewing, in fear that I’ll compromise the outcome.  Thankfully, the Brothers accepted me into their volunteer program in one of the greatest cities this country has to offer.

What I’m most excited about is this experience schedules plenty of time for reflection and chillin (unlike the last four years of my life).   This means I’ll finally be able to uphold the one thing I’ve been trying to get my ass in gear with: writing consistently.  So be prepared for insights into religious life, living with two volunteers who I went to college with, and what life in New Orleans for a non-native is like.  And of course, anything pertaining to Justin Timberlake ;]  Although, for my fan psychoticness—check out my fan blog on Tumblr.

So here’s to peace and new beginnings!

Miss Enlund ;]

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