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Why YASC? Why Oman?

For those who know me well, the news of my year in Oman probably did not come as a shock. I have a tendency to make countercultural decisions – like pausing college to hike the Appalachian Trail or quitting my job to discern Episcopal priesthood – so I imagine they’re used to it. But for those whom I’ve just met, the typical response to my upcoming move is: “Why Oman??”

Here is the short(ish) answer: Last year, I took the first step on the path towards becoming an Episcopal priest by applying to the Young Priest Initiative (YPI) in the Diocese of Virginia and beginning Discernment. As I began to explore my sense of calling to ministry, the call grew stronger, clearer, and less intimidating.

Part of the YPI process is completing an 8-week internship in a parish setting. They gave me the option to complete this step while continuing at my job in Durham, but I decided that in order to fully engage with the discernment process I needed to quit my job and participate in the YPI internship full-time. This meant that I would relocate to Richmond, VA and spend the summer interning at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church under the mentorship of Rev. David Niemeyer. This also meant that at the end of the summer, I would need to find a new job for the 2019-20 year.

I applied to a variety of positions and eventually found myself on the phone with an old friend and mentor, Buck Blanchard. Buck asked me the pivotal question, “Why are you only looking at jobs in the U.S.A.?” To which I responded, “I don’t know.” Buck then connected me with Elizabeth Boe and the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC). Through a whirlwind of conversations, the YASC staff told me about Oman and a few other service opportunities abroad. Immediately, I was hooked on Oman.

While the location sounded distant and exciting, my intrigue stemmed from the focus of the organization, the Al Amana Centre, with which I’d be volunteering. Interfaith relations work excites and energizes me, particularly given the rising levels of Islamophobia and Xenophobia in the U.S.A. And if I do end up becoming ordained and thus representing the Church in a visible and professional way, it seems imperative that I am contributing actively and positively to interfaith dialogues. My hope is that this year I will build skills and understanding to have interfaith conversations that build bridges, not barriers. That foster love, not hostility.

My decision to participate in YASC and to serve for a year in Oman resulted from a lot of prayer, a lot of thoughtful conversations, and a lot of lists. Similar to my sense of calling to ordained ministry, I feel surprisingly calm and confident about this decision, despite the many unknowns that lie ahead.

And so… I’m moving to Oman!

Where is Oman? Is it Safe?

Map: Oman highlighted on Arabian Peninsula; Muscat labeled on coast.

The Sultanate of Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsula, and I will be living in the capital city of Muscat. Yes, it is safe. Really, I mean it, Oman is safe.

Don’t believe me? Look at the State Department’s website. Oman’s Travel Advisory Level is 1 – the lowest possible -lower than Spain.

My next blog post will share more about the history and culture of Oman. If you have specific questions, comment below or send me a direct message. I will do my best to answer your questions and share what I’ve learned so far about the Sultanate of Oman!

Until then, please pray for me and the other YASCers as we prepare for departure. Pray for: Emma (Oman), Talley (Philippines), Megan (Guatemala), Emily (Tanzania), Nelson (England), and Marilee (South Africa). And for the Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (EVIM): Stephanie (Israel), Dawn (Spain), and James (UAE).

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