Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Post-Service Term Reflections'


Wading in the Water: Taylor Tibbs '15

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Faith/Theological Exploration, Post-Service Term Reflections

Taylor Tibbs

Following two years with the Northwest Leadership Foundation's Urban Leaders in Training program, Taylor Tibbs '15 is a program manager for the Act 6 program who is beginning to claim her identity as a person of faith. 

Faith was not part of my upbringing. But in part because of what happened at the annual Debriefing and Discernment retreat and partly because of where I work, I feel I can now call myself a spiritual person.

I have never been formally engaged with religion as a practice, and it has always felt very threatening before this chapter of my life. The possibility of being judged because of my lack of faith or engagement of it has been something my mind went to. When I first heard about the Krista Foundation, I thought, this organization is way too Christian for me! But I have found the community, the dialogue, the way we try to explore service, all in alignment with what I already think. Being with the community and talking about faith, it's like I am walking along a path laid by other people, and I'm comfortable doing that now.

At the debriefing, the final discernment activity asked us to imagine what our ideal version of God, the God that wants us to be the best version of ourselves, would say to us. I had a conversation that was weird but also nice. There was a moment at the end when I was overwhelmed by a feeling of calmness which I had never felt before. And I thought that's what God is.

I've learned there is a way to be, a way you can court faith, without feeling like you have to be all in at once. It's like wading in the water and seeing people who are diving in because they have always dived and people who are getting their feet a little wet and people who are kind of like you. When I was interviewing candidates this spring, I met a lot of people who were seasoned Olympians in the water and a couple people who were like, "this is nice, it's cool." I find myself really open to people who are like me in their spiritual journey.

What was stopping me from really exploring spirituality was that it felt like an overwhelming amount of work. I thought that the practice and experience would be heavy. I didn't think I was strong enough to lift it. But after the discernment exercise I thought, nope, I've been doing it! I have been interacting with that kind of energy or entity for a while but haven't been able to name it until I was surrounded by people who could say yep, that's what God feels like. It took being in a physical place and a mental space with people to explore that comfortably.



Where We are From

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections

"During our Debriefing in February, we were given George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From" and asked to rewrite it from our own individual perspectives. What are the places, the people, the experiences that form your path? The result was over 12 poems that reflected our distinct experiences along our service journey.

We realized that the "Where I'm From" poems could become even more powerful if combined as our group's collective journey. "Where We're From" is an attempt to share our individual stories and to recognize the influence of our time together as a group. The stanzas are kept intact, but rearranged with each other's poems to create a single narrative. The poem contains individual poems by Jerrell Davis '14, Taylor Tibbs '15, and Richard Murray '15. We are working on expanding it to include all or most of our Debriefing group's poems.

Ultimately, we hope to create a small, physical book of poetry and invite all Krista Colleagues to share any poetic reflections they have written during their service journey. The feature poem would be the "Where We're From" poem." -Richard Murray ‘15

Where We're From

We are from roots deeper than
the leagues of oceans crossed
by ships carrying Kings and Queens
as means of production.

We are from 5am wake up calls,
scrambled eggs in silk skirts,
payless'd, yet more professional
shoes for grown up girls in public
schools hall ways.

We are from from royalty, humbly borne into
a nation who hated us
and taught us to hate ourselves
But, we are from Love.

We are from hour long conversations
with the copier, with our principal,
with our piece of heaven in the
basement of the beast.

We are from the land of separateness, abandoned.
We are from the Philippines and South Africa,
Or rather somewhere in between.

Consummated in the eyes of the Creator
who made you too;
so We are from Sankofa,
as we reach back to move forward.

We are from downtown, hilltop,
eastside, northend, sixth ave,
skyway, beacon hill, tukwila t-shirts.

We are from Tiya at Tiyo
speaking to Ouma en Oupa,
from first generation to first generation
And now a second
of silence, space, and time.

Estamos Magdalena; unas personas de maíz y la Luna,
y las playas extraviadas de nuestros sueños.

We are from yesterday he was alive,
today we are joyful, tomorrow we
are opportunistic. And little caesars

No necesitamos leer todas las estrellas,
solo vemos a la Luz de los cielos y recordamos,

We hide a connect-the-dots map
of our hearts in our pocket, we pretend
not to do much during the day.

We are from gang signs and privilege;
where Darkness shines
and where we honor the elders,
who remind us
that we are all from the same place,
with different accents.

We are from was, now, and will be.
We are from the grandmother singing,
Planting rice is no fun,
work from dawn
‘til the end of sun.


Lindie Burgess makes ripples at University of Portland

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Post-Service Term Reflections, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Lindie Burgess on a service trip with students in Deer Park in Spokane, WA. Moving from “small town Podunk Montana” to the University of Portland was “a big shock that blew my socks off” remembers Lindie Burgess ‘11. Setting aside her degree in mechanical engineering to open herself to the homeless community through a year of service at St. André Bessette Catholic Church in downtown Portland made her world even bigger. Today she draws on those experiences as program manager for the UP’s Moreau Center, guiding students through mind- and heart-blowing week to three week long service immersion experiences.

Recently a student summarized her 3-week Social Justice immersion in the South in two words: “It sucked.” Angered by all the injustice she witnessed as she learned about the civil rights movement and talked to contemporary leaders, the student felt burned out, overwhelmed, and alone. Her companions on this intense experience were scattering to summer or post-grad activities.

“Witnessing other folks’ experiences marks us, and she felt that she couldn’t handle any more suffering,” remembers Lindie. Drawing on her own experiences as a Krista Colleague with plenty of space, time, and fellow travelers to mull things over with, she suggested that the girl acknowledge the suffering with friends and others in her network. “Right now it’s too much, but if you create intentional spaces for conversation, it will come out when you allow it to.”

Wearing her “Krista Colleague hat”, Lindie helps UP strengthen structures to support and prepare students for their service experiences. It’s significant work, because a majority of UP undergrads participate in Moreau Center programs. Lindie knows that preparing them to step into service is just the starting point. “There is so much need right now for folks to be accompanied, and so much burnout associated if folks are not accompanied, especially when they return,” says Lindie.


2016 KF Service Leadership Conference

The Krista Foundation | Service In The News, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

2016 service leadership conferenceThe Krista Foundation is pleased to announce the 2016 KF Annual Conference at Clearwater Lodge on Davis Lake (45 minutes NE of Spokane, WA).

When: Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Guest Registration and details

2016 theme

The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship 2016 Service Leadership Conference explores the theme "ReStorying Us: Crafting Narratives for Change"  There are many narratives that define "us" as a community of service leaders, as a community of faith, as diverse and unified humans. Yet there are many cultural narratives that divide us, promote fear, or are unheard or silenced that reinforce (intentionally and not) the twisting of our collective understanding of "us," and "our" story. Hence - "Restorying us." To restory us is to restore us.


This year we will collectively "workshop" our way through a ReStorying Us process and utilize the conference platform to launch ongoing restorying connections in person and virtually after the conference.


2016 Featured SpeakerJaleh Sadravi

We welcome Jaleh Sadravi as our featured speaker. She brings a powerful mix of narrative crafting and technical skill from her life as the daughter of an African American Lutheran pastor and a Persian Shiite Muslim, as a service leader, and professional communications and media expert. Together, we'll craft narratives for change. We'll gain new frameworks and tools for shifting perspectives, conversations, and crafting multimedia stories.


What are you waiting for?! Please sign up to take advantage of this special opportunity to connect with and encourage young adults on their journey of service leadership!

Click here to register as a guest 


Peter Bittner on Tough Service Experiences and Discernment

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Post-Service Term Reflections

This speech was given at the Krista Foundation Annual Fundraising Breakfast in Spokane, WA on September 29, 2015. 

Peter Bittner, 2013 Colleague, served as a youth tutor with AmeriCorps in White Center, WA. Immediately following his year of service, Peter became a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Currently, Peter is a student at the University of California Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, engaging his passion as a global-citizen storyteller. In addition to his studies, Peter created and leads the Empowering Women and Girls through Entrepreneurship project in Mongolia, as well as serves on the Krista Colleague Leadership Council. 

For my fellow Krista Colleagues and me, fall represents a time of new
beginnings in our service journeys: the start of a new school year, a new service-term,
a new job. It may mean a new living situation or a new academic program. It's a
season of changes and, while exciting, it can also be a stressful time of year. People
falsely romanticize the concept of long-term service and volunteerism; it's tough!

Reflecting back upon my two service terms, I can attest that for me it was a
bumpy, exhilarating, and intense ride. In the fall of 2013, as an AmeriCorps youth tutor
in White Center, WA, I began to feel the very real pressures of managing an
after-school program composed of diverse, underprivileged youth from mainly Somali
refugee backgrounds. The brief (1-week) honeymoon phase was over and,
inexperienced, untrained, and unsupervised, I did my best. I realized I was in over my
head when an older student slapped a much younger one across the face with the
bottom of her shoe. This not only caused disruptions for us, but divided a housing
community already rife with clan-based tensions carried over from their home country.
Without an on-site supervisor or adequate training, I simply had no idea what I had
walked into!

During the autumn of 2014, as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in
Mongolia, I relived many of the same struggles (minus the shoe-slapping) plus some
new ones, in a completely different context. In Ulaanbaatar, I had to adjust to teaching
students from recently-migrated herder families whose level of English, and interest in
learning it, was virtually zero. In fact, my teachers and I often struggled to
In my third week of class, my co-teacher, Oyuna, called "Hello, Peter! Where are you?"
my co-teacher asked over the phone.

"Hi, Badmaa Teacher! I'm here in class with our students. Where are you?"
"Ah, Peter. I'm very sorry! I cannot come today. My cow is melting!"
"Oh, it's melting! Well, you should put it in the freezer then!" I said jokingly without the
faintest clue what she was talking about.
"Yes, good idea! I will put it in the freezer now. Sorry, there is blood all over my house."
"Ooh! OK, you clean that up! I'll teach, then! No worries!" She's serious!
"Peter, I bought-shared a cow with my sister, and my half was inside the house for
many weeks. Because it was very cold in the winter! But, you see, spring came early!"
"I'm sorry to hear that! No problem at all. I'll continue with the lesson, then."
"OK! Thank you! Bye bye!"

It was in relaying these often hilarious-in-retrospect anecdotes through my blog, and
taking photos of everything in sight, that I began to process my experiences and
recognize and appreciate the beauty.

Peter Bittner, 2013 Colleague

As you can imagine... there was a lot to try to make sense of at the culmination
of these distinctly diverse and challenging experiences. What did I learn? What did I
like or dislike? What skills did I gain? Where do I want to go next? In navigating the
choppy and uncertain waters, how can I bypass the dominant cultural narrative of
"success equals material wealth" to build upon Christian values of "love thy neighbor"?
Should I go to business school? Or try to write a book?

In helping answer all these tricky questions and more, The Krista Foundation for
Global Citizenship fills a need that no other organization I've encountered has been
able to address: a supportive Christian community offering guidance and
encouragement through the variety of difficult decisions I face in my mid-twenties.
Hosting a Krista Foundation "Service in Perspective" event at my service-site during
my AmeriCorps term allowed me to connect with Colleagues through deep, meaningful
conversation surrounding the intercultural and ethical dynamics of effective volunteer
service and gain a new outlook on my daily routines at my community center.

And, most importantly, the Debriefing Retreat facilitated an invaluable
opportunity to meet myself at exactly where I was in the months following my move
from Mongolia to California; in reverse-culture shock, dealing with accumulated tension
and trauma, and searching for direction. Ultimately, the discernment exercise
conducted at the end of the weekend helped me make an important decision: to follow
my passion for truthful storytelling as a student at the University of California,
Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.


One Goal, Many Possible Paths

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

2012 Krista Colleague Mike Davis spends his days equipping youth to use art to process trauma. Read how he's discerning his next step in growing his vision for service.


Mike DavisBecause music got Mike Davis ‘12 safely through a rough adolescence, he's passionate about helping young people to engage, create, and communicate through arts and performance.

While serving with Urban Impact in Seattle, he began to see how the arts could go deeper. Many of the middle schoolers he worked with didn't know how to process their pain in a constructive way. Using hip hop, Mike saw firsthand how students could "get stuff out of them and into a song or a spoken word piece." Releasing their feelings through art helped them process trauma.

As well, students found in Mike a mentor who understood where they came from and what they were dealing with at home. As he writes in "Where I am from"


I'm from...

Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,

Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,

Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,

I'm from...

How come YOU get to and I can't,

From songs I didn't like but was forced to dance,

From, if another cop looks at me that way I'ma...

From, never mind, I'll just avoid that drama.


One day, a girl who had shared her journal with Mike--including an entry that talked of suicide--came to see her counselor. Told that the counselor was out, she asked to meet with Mike instead. You can't, was the reply-Mike is not certified.

"She needed someone, but on paper I wasn't certified to talk with her," Mike remembers.

Stung by the response, Mike enrolled in Bellevue College. But the road to credentials in art therapy would be long. Aiming for a graduate degree would mean "pounding it out for the next 8 to 10 years, doing my prerequisites and transferring to university."

And unlike many students, Mike's full-time studies joined an already long list of responsibilities as a full-time worker, musician, and dad to his 5 year old son.

A year into his studies, Mike began to wonder if this was what God had in mind for him. After wrestling with this question during the January Debriefing and Discernment retreat, Mike is choosing to put school on hold for now.

"I know what art and music did for me as a teen, so I want to connect performing art and visual art to help kids process major or minor trauma," he says. "That's still my vision, but God is calling me to pick another route, and it's slowly making sense."

During his six years in Seattle, Mike has built relationships with many different community organizations. Connected to faith-based and secular nonprofits as well as the public education system, he is well positioned to use the arts to make a difference in the lives of young Seattle residents.

Now a drop-in coordinator for the Seattle Union Gospel Mission's Youth Reachout Center, Mike thinks that the route God has in mind for him might be less traditional. "It's like God is saying, really experience this road instead of the one you would naturally take. I feel like if I am obedient to what God is saying, all these pieces will fall in place."




Where I'm From

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

Before we can know where we are going, we need to recognize where we are from. At the Debriefing and Discernment Retreats, Krista Foundation Colleagues were invited to claim their roots and their present as they wrote poems prompted by the question, Where am I from?

Michael Davis, Justin Willis, Madie Padon, and Claire Smith share their responses here.


 Where I'm From
Mike Davis

I’m from…

The long lines of government assistance,

From the same line that formed my existence.

The lines that separated me from you,

The lines that labeled me as colored because you couldn’t accept my hue, truth.

I’m from…

Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,

Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,

Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,

I’m from…

How come YOU get to and I can’t,

From songs I didn’t like but was forced to dance,

From, if another cop looks at me that way I’ma…

From, never mind, I’ll just avoid that drama.

I’m from…

You’ll never go there, because where I’m from is nowhere,

Listen, I don’t think you understood me…

I’m from nowhere, no where you’re from

Or forsake the history from whence you come,

You wanna know where I’m from?

I come from long lines from which my history was hung

I come from the reminder of the history in which you shun.

Mike Davis


Formerly director of the Leadership and Mentoring Program for Urban Impact in Seattle, Mike Davis ‘12 is now a drop-in coordinator for the Union Gospel Mission's Youth Center.


Where I'm From
Madie Padon

I am from the beginning of the Nile with endless tilapia to dust filled roads where an oncoming truck meant you have to hold your breath for the next 2 minutes as it passed by.

I am from sneaky, shadow seeking geckos that I said goodnight to every night to the starch filled meals that seemed to have no taste.

I am from dancing in front of hundreds at a moments notice to carrying three unknown children in a 12 person van that somehow seated 15.

I am from riding side saddle on a motorbike for miles, praying to God that this won't be my last to calling random women Mama to show my utmost respect.

I am from red dust that would camouflage my feet to being one with the road to being touched and played with by random strangers, no matter how old.

I am from endless star ridden skies to beautiful blood red sunsets in a place that you've thought you had died.

Madie Padon


Madie Padon '12 taught biology and science at the Holy Cross Schools near Lake Victoria in Uganda.

 Where I'm From
Claire Smith 

I'm from the big leaf maple tree with the yellow slide and swing underneath,

From vegetable gardens and woodstoves,

Home cooking and families whose names are like legends in the Valley -- Zender, Strachila, Galbraith, Engholm.

I'm from 40 minute drives to "Town" to get groceries.

I'm from classical piano -- Mozart, Schubert --

From family outings to the city, to the theatre, to the aquarium,

From "Money can't buy you happiness, especially if you don't ever use it," and "Love is something if you give it away."

I'm from sit and stand in church.

Liturgies and Sunday School Songs,

Kyrie eleison and Vespers ‘86,

From Holden's Village Center ceiling and Railroad Creek footbridge.

I'm from the university.

From words like "juxtaposition" and "neocolonialism."
I'm from sestinas and short stories,

From "liminal spaces" and "intersectionality"

From walks around Spanaway Lake and late night runs to WinCo.

I'm from silent solidarity, staring at computer screens until our eyes blur and we have to dance around, singing in silly voices until we feel like humans again.

I'm from study away.

From papel picado, chicharrones, and tlayudas

From Día de los Muertos and drinking smoky, burning mezcal until I like it.

From being a güerra, güerra and a señorita.

I'm from misunderstandings and putting my foot in my mouth and talking around my meaning.

I'm from urban bike paths and taking the MAX.

From crisis lines and grupos de apoyo

From "1 in 3 women" and "You deserve to ALWAYS feel safe"

From trying to accompany, to create healing spaces

I'm from Big Sky and Big Horn Mountains

From pow wows and basketball tournaments

From "What kind of Indian are you?" and "Maaaaan, Teacher, you're mean!"

From trying to accompany, to create safe spaces

I'm from Ruined for Life

From tense grocery conversations and game nights

From dinner tables and cooking disasters

I'm from silent solidarity, trying to hold the woes of the world until our eyes blur and we have to dance around, singing in silly voices until we feel like humans again.

From strangers making a home together.

Claire Smith


As part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Claire Smith '12 served domestic violence survivors in Oregon and was an academic assistant at a school on the Crow reservation in Montana.

Where I'm From
Justin Willis 

I'm from my childhood. Rain, rain, and more rain. The Pacific Northwest at its finest. The Olympics, the X-games, Major League Baseball. I am going to be there one day. Moving from city to city, new friends, new plans. Diversity and public education shaping who I am.

I'm from college. Deepened faith and silent retreats. Still one of the most moving things I have done. Sit with your thoughts and see what happens. Science, so much science. But also social justice. Social justice and science. Best friends, lost friends. Confusion, questioning, anger, pain. Discernment. Choosing what ultimately brought me most joy.

I'm from JVC Northwest. Conversations about 2% milk. Is this even important? Solidarity, social justice, spirituality, community. Mac Attack. Guy, Dave, Courtney, Eddy, Ben, Stephanie, Irena, Jordan, Nic, Todd, Julia, and so many more. Never getting the balance right. Inadequacy, regret, and many mistakes. But ultimately so much joy.

I'm from life after service. Stress about the future. Tests, tests, and more tests, and probably more tests after that. Being welcomed home by my parents. Surviving through adversity and coming out better on the other side.

Justin Willis


Justin Willis '13 served in the Recuperative Care Program at the Old Town Clinic, working alongside Portland's homeless population.



2015 KF Service Leadership Conference

The Krista Foundation | Service In The News, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

2015 service leadership conferenceThe Krista Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 KF Annual Conference at Clearwater Lodge on Davis Lake (45 minutes NE of Spokane, WA).

When: Friday, May 22nd- Monday, May 25th, 2015

Guest Registration and details

2015 theme

The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship 2015 Service Leadership Conference explores the theme "Yes! And...Tending a Life of Service Leadership."  We'll apply the most basic rule of improve ("yes, and...") to the motivations of faithful service. After saying "Yes!" to a service year, adding an emphatic "AND" unleashes the possibilities for transforming service into a lifetime of service leadership. 



What are you waiting for?! Please sign up to take advantage of this special opportunity to connect with and encourage young adults on their journey of service leadership!

Click here to register as a guest 


What Guatemala Taught Me About South Seattle
by Krista Colleague Jerrell Davis '14

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Urban America, Community, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

 "Sometimes you make choices...sometimes the choices make you" is a saying that resonates with Krista Colleague Jerrell Davis, who was recently featured in the South Seattle Emerald. After a lifetime of making choices "that were rarely the most popular and usually not the easiest",  the Seattle Pacific University student chose to study abroad in Guatemala and return this winter to serve at a hospital for people with special needs. His service has changed the way he sees his community and himself.

Read how in the South Seattle Emerald.



Transition and More Transition

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Education, Law, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

Brittany Harwell is passionate about justice.

She spent 2011-12 with International Justice Mission Kenya helping to free illegally detained clients. Observing how justice works-and doesn't work-in a developing country, she came home filled with "righteous rage" but tongue-tied: "I couldn't articulate why I was passionate, or who I wanted to help and why."

Next, as a teacher in Texas, Brittany found herself asking hard questions on how race and class affect both education and the U.S. justice system. Her special educations students, who were mostly Mexican-American, floundered in regular classes instead of receiving promised support-and then one of her 8th graders vanished into the juvenile justice system. "This is not fair!" she told herself. "I can't lose another Nick!"

In the Krista Foundation's structured debriefing and peer-mentoring process, Brittany started the difficult process of reconciling her ideals and her service experiences. Bringing the pieces together, she used her Service Leadership Grant to participate in the National summit for Courageous Conversations, exploring effective ways to bridge racial disparities and equip students for success.

Now a first-year student at Georgetown University Law Center, Brittany is excited to see "how the law interacts with diversity and race and what the patterns look like, what you can do, and what you can't." For Brittany, "what you can't do" will not be the end of the story.