After months of waiting in Germany and a great orientation seminar in Philadelphia, I finally arrived in Cleveland in mid-January, my home for the next eight months. I was welcomed at the train platform at 3:30am by a colleague from my project, and I had the following days to arrive and settle in. In Cleveland, I live in the Catholic Worker house with 3 other people, as part of a much larger community. That is definitely a highlight for me: coming to a new city with no other ASF volunteers around and being immediately welcomed into the community. During the week, we eat together; on the weekends, we go hiking in the snow.
The rest of the week, I spend in my project, the IRTF (Interreligious Task Force for Latin America) which is a small NGO that works for solidarity with oppressed people and is active with groups in Central American countries and Colombia, for example. My task is creating newsletters or actions on acute human rights violations. Because of the pandemic, there are only two of us in the small, crowded but charming office. Therefore, the working day is quite quiet for now, but there is still enough work to do. I sit in front of the computer a lot, but I am learning an incredible amount about various exciting topics here, and after only two weeks of familiarization I have already been given the opportunity to start my own projects and focus on individual topics.
Cleveland is still very cold and gray, and the pandemic doesn't make it easy to do things and meet new people. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the small circle I already have here through the community and my project, and I'm looking forward to when both the weather and the social life thaw out a bit in a few months and I can really settle in here.
Greetings from Carlynn, ARSP volunteer 2021/22