When I started my service from home, I felt rather stuck and unmotivated. I was still communicating with clients over the phone and completing many of my usual tasks, but it was very different. While serving in the city, I spent a lot of time with individuals and families, during the commute to/from appointments, in waiting rooms, or even in our NSC office. And while our conversations would often revolve around their health concerns or understanding a specific area of healthcare, many times they’d be about topics completely unrelated. While waiting at a blood work appointment with a family from Afghanistan, the teenagers and I would chat about our hobbies, families, and even the latest tik tok trends. While walking to a Jefferson appointment, an elderly man from Pakistan spoke to me about the challenges he’s faced with homelessness and his current goals for himself. Once I was tasked with keeping the cutest 2 year old busy in the waiting room - so I sang and danced along to songs of her favorite Bollywood actor. Surprisingly, it was the only thing that kept her attention! These are the precious, memorable moments that I cherished, and which kept me going, even on the days that were emotionally and/or physically draining. And these were the moments I was missing dearly at home.
One of the lessons I’ve learned from this service year is that it isn’t just about getting something done. There is a constant to-do list, and many times, that to-do list will get done one way or another, by some volunteer or another. Focusing on the process rather than just completing tasks in position descriptions helped me feel more connected and purposeful in my role. And it’s pretty simple: spending time getting to know clients through conversation or learning basic greetings in their language, or connecting with case managers to address together the hardships families are facing. I think service from home became more of a checklist of tasks to do, and I lost this interactive personal process that had made the work so special and enjoyable. I now do weekly/bi-weekly check-in calls with a few clients and have conversations outside of just the health realm, which has really helped for my personal headspace, and hopefully for my clients as well.
Serving with NSC has been an incredible experience. As Clinic Liaison for recently arrived refugees, I have been fortunate to gain exposure and experience in medical, public health, and social service sectors. I’ve been able to collaborate with NSC case managers, medical teams, and recently Penn students from an organization called Penn Educare. I think this level of involvement and collaboration is something I’d greatly underestimated for this year. Regardless of what field you’re in, your team is so important. I’m thankful for having had multiple teams of dedicated individuals, (e.g. my health team, Refugee resettlement team, refugee clinic teams) work with me to support and empower our NSC families in more ways than I’d imagined.
Image Description: The 4 NSC Health team members from National Health Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Mercy Volunteer Corps smiling, holding props for a goofy team picture