I decided I’ll start this blog off (for real) by answering some questions I’ve gotten repeatedly from family and friends… because let’s be honest, no one knows what a Fellows program is. Including the Fellows. (Well, we do now… but I really didn’t till I got here. And even now we don’t really know how to explain it to people; it’s a common problem.) So if you have no idea where I am or what I’m doing… Don’t worry. I’m (hopefully) about to clear that up for you a bit. This is almost two full months “late” at this point, but it’s actually good because I can answer these questions better now that I’ve had some time to settle in up here.
Who are you?
Okay, well, if you’re really lost, I’ll start with this. The name’s Amanda and I’m a 2013 graduate of William & Mary, now spending a year in a graduate fellowship program called the Boston Fellows. This blog is about that, I guess. I was a linguistics major and a business/French minor in college, and now I’m trying to figure out what on earth I can possibly do with that (and what I want to!). I’m fascinated by language and I want to find a way to help people in whatever I end up doing for my career. This means that currently, I’m thinking about going into nonprofit, but really it means I have no idea what I might end up doing. I love reading, a really wide and kind of ridiculous variety of music, hiking and camping and skiing and picnicking and the outdoors generally, going to concerts, puppies, knitting, wine, and good stories in any medium.
What are you doing?
Funny you should ask. It’s called the Boston Fellows and it’s a part of The Fellows Initiative, which has programs nation-wide in many major cities. Basically, it’s a work/study program sponsored by a local church, and the goal is leadership-and-career development for recent college grads who are transitioning into the working world. Sounds fun, huh? (It really is. Tiring, but fun.) www.thebostonfellows.com if you want to know more! (The site’s actually really cool now. One of the other Fellows, Jim, has been working on it, and I think it looks great!)
What are you doing?
Okay, okay. I, specifically, am working at Bush & Company, a small life insurance company in the Financial District in Boston! I work for Jamie Bush, the owner of the company, and right now while his other employee is on maternity leave (she just had her baby and it’s a boy and it’s super exciting!), I’m actually the only person working for him, so I get to be “and Company”, which is kind of fun. I’m the Operations Manager which means I do a lot of administrative stuff – emails, phone calls, Excel spreadsheets, and paperwork – and I’m learning the ropes of the insurance business. I basically handle a lot of the daily operations of the business because my boss is super busy and well-connected and has lots of clients. We’re located within the Commonwealth Financial Group/MassMutual office in the Financial District, so even though it’s a really small company I’m still getting to know lots of people because we’re in a big office. So that’s nice.
But what I’ve described so far is actually only about half of my job. The other half (and a huge part of the reason I took the job) is that Jamie spends a good 50% of his time and energy (at least!) on helping local causes, churches and charities, and I’m getting to do a lot with that. His current project is a fundraiser for an inner city church, Bethel AME. The co-pastors of the church, Ray and Gloria Hammond, are incredible people who have been doing incredible work for Christ in the city for the past 25 years, so we’re holding a gala in December to help them raise money for their church and nonprofit social justice foundation, and to celebrate their ministry’s 25 years of work, specifically with high risk youth and youth violence in the city. So a big part of my job is also the event planning side of things for Bethel & the A Voice At The Table gala. (See avatt.org!)
Where are you living? What’s it like? How do you like the town, the city, New England, etc.?
I’m living in a little town called Amesbury a little less than an hour north of Boston and I LOVE it. It’s adorable. This whole area is. I like New England a lot (although there are tons of roundabouts and confusing intersections EVERYWHERE – that’s probably my one minor complaint right now. Well, that and the lack of Chick-fil-A). Boston is a really great city. This whole area is so pretty, and so interesting and rich in history, and there’s lots to do and basically I’m just really excited about pretty much all of it. Living in a little town and getting to work in the city feels like the best of both worlds. It’s a bit colder than I’m used to this time of year and I’m sure there’s plenty more of that to come, but I’m actually kind of excited for the winter still at this point. Long story short… I really, really love it here so far.
Who are the other Fellows? How is living with them?
For right now it’s just four of us: myself, Paul, Pieter, and Jim. Paul’s in biotech/research, Jim is a history major interested in refugee resettlement and currently working for a healthcare company, and Pieter is working with a ministry called Redeemed Lives. We’re living in this big old drafty house that used to be a convent, and it’s wonderful. I absolutely love it and it has definitely come to feel like home. Living with the guys is great – they’re incredibly cool people and we hit it off right from the start, mostly by bonding over being introverts and our nerdy tastes in TV shows, video games, and literature. We have really good conversations over dinner and living in this community is definitely a very different, very awesome experience. (So yes, I’m living with 3 guys, and New Girl fans will notice I’ve subtly themed my blog as a shout-out to this. It’s fun though. I’ve basically got my own wing of the house because the “girls’ side” is all mine at this point… That might change soon though because at some point one more Fellow, Meredith, will be joining us! I think she’s moving in in November. Which is exciting.)
Have you found a church yet?
Okay, this is a question I’ve gotten a lot from people back home and it makes me laugh because with the way the program works, it’s kind of a given. As a part of the Fellows program we go to church together and the director of the program coordinates that, so it wasn’t so much a matter of finding a church as getting here and just finding out where to go. Boston Fellows is actually sponsored by the Anglican diocese of New England, so we’re affiliated with All Saints Anglican Church in Amesbury (we live right behind the church) but due to that church currently being in a transition period with their leadership, we’re actually going to Hope Chapel in Hamilton. It’s very small – a recent (within the past few years) church plant, I think. Our pastor and his family have been some of the most welcoming people, and they’re so much fun. There are 5 kids so it’s always crazy hanging out with them, but they’re great. We’re also leading small groups for the youth on Sundays, and the pastor’s kids make up probably a third of the church’s entire youth group. It’s a fun dynamic. I like going to such a small church because it’s a tight knit community and it has made it entirely possible to get to know (or at least meet) pretty much everybody within the two months I’ve been here.
What’s the hardest thing so far?
I’d have to say at this point, it’s balancing work and the workload for our Friday classes. We’re taking a Christ and Culture/Intro to Cultural Engagement class though Gordon-Conwell’s Mockler Center for Faith and Ethics in the Workplace, and while I feel like I am getting a lot out of it, it’s also by far the most draining part of what I’m doing this year so far because we have a book to read for class every week and a paper to write on it, due Friday morning. This makes for a lot of reading on the weekends through Wednesday or Thursday evening, and late nights on Thursdays spent paper writing. Since I’m working 9-5 the first four weekdays of every week, it’s a full load and a lot to juggle. We also have Spiritual Formation on Friday afternoons as well as daily readings in the Book of Common Prayer, though, and both of those have proven to be a source of peace, wisdom, and refreshment in a really cool way. I’m definitely learning a lot. I’m just having to get used to a lot as well.
What’s the best thing about Boston?
I’m not going to pick just one, but the beautiful skies and scenery, fun and fascinating accents, and amount of really good concerts are definitely all in the running. I also really like public transportation, so there’s that. And it’s just a really lovely city all around. I’m lovin’ it.
Well, that’s it for now, folks… Let me know if you can think of any other questions I should have answered!
Actual legitimate blog posts coming soon. I promise. (After I get back from W&M HOMECOMING!)