Rewards from Putting in the Work
Introvert doesn’t quite seem strong enough a term to describe my temperament. Around my house anyway, we describe introverts as getting their energy from withen themselves. Extroverts, then, are those individuals who get their energy from groups of people—to the Kuss family, anyway. The connotation of “introvert” is in the society at large something closer to “a quiet recluse who prefers solitude
to company.” While I like my family’s definition, I fear that this latter definition might be closer—in reality—to describing me. If my Friday night options are going to a crowded gathering of friends full of laughter and loud music or staying home and inviting a few friends over to play Scrabble, I will rummage through my collection of board games almost every time.
My summer spent as a Peace Intern, then, was an interesting challenge for me. After a week at the beginning of the summer spent in intensive training and conversation, I felt well prepared for the “content” part of my experience. However, for me, people have always been hard work. No, I don’t have any conversational deficiency, and I think I am pretty good at small talk and communicating my ideas clearly, but being around a large group just takes so much ENERGY. As I found, this is especially true when younger, more energetic individuals are involved, and I spent immense energy each week on the opening “get to know you” activities with a brand new group of counseling staff—many of whom had known each other since (seemingly) diapers. At the same time, though, as I already knew but my DPF summer confirmed beyond any doubt, when in a group of campers, putting in a little work will always yield gigantic results.
I love campfires at camp more than any singular camp element. For me, campfires present a unique way to experience God’s touch through laughter, silliness, and song. Leading songs, skits, and discussion at campfire, though, means being the focal point of a group’s attention. Throughout last summer, I struggled consistently with mustering up the courage to place myself firmly in front of a group—the only person in any light—and put myself out there in song or story. Whenever I get myself to be in those situations, though, I “let ‘er rip,” as the expression goes. When telling a story, my energy supplies are running on empty by the end, and when leading a loud, rambunctious song, by the last chorus I feel awful if I haven’t worked up a healthy sweat. However, when my energy ran low leading activities last summer, it was God’s turn to do God’s work through me. I rejoiced in allowing God to work through and with me in all of my activities, but especially when my energy was running low, the Spirit helped replenish my energy faster than I could possibly burn it.
Regardless how much energy I put in to an activity, though, those with whom I was interacting always gave back to me just what I gave to them. The louder I sang—screamed—the louder campers screamed back. The more vocal inflection and physical motion I put into a story, the more actively my audience listened. The more in-depth I discussed Ubuntu, the more abstractly campers wanted to discuss the concept. Indeed, while interacting with groups for me is tiring almost beyond belief, the fulfillment I get from hearing young people’s laughter and sharing or leading a healthy discussion
is unmatched among earthly pleasures.
Currently, I am entering my final semester at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, from which I will be receiving a degree in Musical Arts with a double major in German in May. Next year, I ama pplying for two different teaching programs, Teach for America and Boston Teacher Residency, as well as to the Global Missions Intern program. I consider the work I did last summer through DPF at least once every day and fondly remember every ounce of energy I spent on people. Last summer, I formed friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime—here I must recognize the eternal bond the ABC team shares, and the three or four college freshman and clergy from around the country with whom I share regular communication. Indeed, regardless what I end up doing next year and for the rest of my life, DPF helped make a lasting commitment for me to helping others learn, laugh, love, and think with one another.