Name: Clara Unzicker
Hometown: Benson, Illinois (Mennonite Church of Normal)
Assignment: As part of MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, I work with children, families and older adults through MCC partner Creciendo
Juntos (whose name means Growing Together), an organization in Soacha, Colombia, outside of the city of Bogotá. Many families here were displaced by conflict in Colombia or recently migrated from Venezuela.
Typical day: Home visits during the mornings or planning activities. In the afternoons, children come to do homework or participate in workshops. During
school vacation, for instance, afternoons included soccer practices and workshops on learning about conflict resolution, teamwork and nonviolent peacemaking. After work, I head home on the bus and typically spend evenings reading or watching movies.
Joys: Connecting with other Mennonite youth at my host family’s church. My host
sister and her boyfriend lead the group for young adults in their 20s, and I’ve really appreciated this time as a way to learn about the role and participation of young people in the Colombian Mennonite church. Also building relationships with children and families at Creciendo Juntos.
Challenge: Adjusting to new daily routines and different ways of living.
On growing in faith: I have enjoyed learning about the different ways that Mennonites worship. Hearing from Colombian Anabaptists about their work for peace and nonviolence in the midst of real, present conflict also has been a really powerful experience for me.
Advice for others considering SALT: Talk with SALT alumni and hear about their experiences. One piece of advice I received was not to only consider placements that align with your interests or career. While service placements are a large part of SALT, living with a host family and learning about history and culture will come with each placement.
Editor's note: Clara served with SALT in 2021-2022 and extended her work through fall 2022.