Molly from the Animate Youth Ministries team reflects on the lessons learned as a gap-year volunteer
Before I started on the team last September, I had never lived away from home and one of my principal worries was about living with people whom I had not met before in a place I did not know. I was very quiet and shy in social situations when we first started as I was still finding my feet, based in new surroundings with new colleagues, and trying to get to grips with a new job as well.
If I am honest, all of this did overwhelm me at first, yet during the induction week I began to settle in. There were many different activities organised for us which helped to ease some of my nerves and shed more light on what this year was going to be like. People came in and spoke to us about classroom management; we were given a talk about prayer and how to plan it; and the RISE Theatre company spent two days with us, showing us techniques for presenting ourselves on stage and delivering different materials. All of this really helped us get to know each other and bond as a team. After the classroom management session, in particular, I felt more confident about going into schools.
By the time we broke up for Christmas, we had worked with a good number of young people and, through this experience, many of my initial worries had gone. I had found my feet with regard to living in community and the structure of our days. For instance, I had never previously said morning and evening prayers daily but at Animate this is something we do and I really like the fact that in the middle of our busy schedule, we still make time to take a moment to be with God.
By the time Easter came around, with two school mission weeks and many day retreats behind us, I was definitely comfortable with the work we were doing. I could feel myself growing in confidence and even got the chance to shape some of our drama work by rewriting the scripts we had performed during one mission week – it made me feel so proud of myself. That second term was a big turning point; I realised I had grown up not only in the way I act and present myself but in my faith as well.
Now we are coming to the end of my gap year at Animate, I can see it was definitely the best thing for me to do. I have learned life lessons that I would never have had in school or college, such as how to control big groups of young people and keep them on task; to plan morning and night prayer; and to come up with different and more creative ways of prayer. Most importantly – or so my mum thinks – I have finally learned how to use a washing machine!
For anyone unsure of where they want to go after college or university, I would strongly recommend a gap year on the Animate team. For me, it has really opened up new doors and possible directions to where I could go, and helped me see a side of myself that I didn't know existed.
• Dates for the diary
Life & Soul – 12 June (7pm) at St Margaret Mary's Church, Pilch Lane, Liverpool
Lourdes departure Mass – 1 July (7.30pm) at St Mary's, Lowe House