We only have a week left of this program and realizing the short time we have left have had me pondering more about the value of my service and projects here at Larkin Street.
Last weekend, I met up with an old friend who asked me, “Are you ready to go back home, or do you want to stay here longer? Are you going to miss San Francisco, or nah?” My immediate thought and response was: “I want to go home to my family and to a place I know, but I’m going to miss my work at Larkin.” As those words slipped out of my mouth, I was taken aback. What work am I doing here, though, exactly?
At first, my experience in San Francisco was flooded with sensations involving the new environment, staff, clients, potential projects, and reflections about my place in the work place. I still experience this every day, but as the departure date came closer and closer, I started to doubt the value of my work here more and more. Of course, I had learned tremendously from the work and hoped to spread my experience with peers on campus and beyond; nevertheless, I felt that I hadn’t made a connection with a client, developed a long-lasting project, or relieved stress or workload of the staff here. Although these could be selfish desires or big expectations, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was going to leave without having been more useful. What had I done that was meaningful or even organized? People always say to leave your mark where you go, but what was going to be my mark? Would I even have one?
Because all of this was going through my head, I was startled by how quickly and genuinely I responded with, “I’m going to miss working at Larkin.” I probably need to ponder more about this question and feeling, but I did come to one conclusion.
I have truly enjoyed and valued my experiences working at Larkin Street. In the end, whether the experience was meaningful for me, the client, the staff, or for all parties, each day of my work contained treasured moments, change, and growth.
Everything from the discomfort I felt when I saw someone passed out on the streets. The decreasing physical discomfort but increasing emotional discomfort when seeing people on the streets. All the small conversations I had with clients while playing games in the Engagement & Community Center (ECC), sitting in front of a computer down in the LSA, or doing a project. The two-hour philosophy discussion I had with a client while sitting at our health corner today. The random deep, startling topics clients talked about while playing cards. Each nod or smile I shared with someone on the streets. The friendly response to a “hello” or “good morning” I now have the pleasure of receiving from a client who initially didn’t speak to me in the beginning. The increasing number of familiar faces and hellos around the work place from both the staff and clients.
Each and every one of those moments, small or big, was what I enjoyed and matured from in San Francisco. I guess I still haven’t answered the question of whether my work was valuable or worthwhile, but regardless, I have accepted to value my moments and to trust and hope that the experience was shared. I hope my final days in San Francisco and all the time beyond will bring about more growth and connections with my experiences here.