A French AMA in Worcester
"If you are looking for God: He is everybody, He is the society,
He is Life."
Worcester, MA is an unlikely destination for a young man from Cannes (France), but for one year Pierre Tardivo has chosen to make it his home as an Associate Missionary of the Assumption (AMA). He tells us about his experience below:
"I arrived in Worcester at the beginning of September 2007. It was a long exciting trip from France. It was my first time in the United States and it was a wonderful sunny day. In the first few days, I met hundreds of people, fantastic and very generous people, everywhere. Everybody seemed to be looking at me like I was an alien from Mars. I can understand that: I couldn’t understand people well because of my English and I was the French guy who nobody could understand what he was doing here and why did he come to this place, Worcester!
In fact, I didn’t know some of these answers either. I always knew why I became an AMA but the thing I couldn’t explain was why this place and what I could do. So those were two big questions.
This thinking is a part of my experience here. Of course, your job when you are an AMA is to help. But if you want to help well, the first thing you have to do is to understand what you are doing, why, for whom and how to do the best work. You have to know everything about yourself before trying to understand others.
So, the first question was: What I am doing here?
That is a pretty difficult question: the place. For that, let’s have help from better sources than me:
“The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there." (Gen 12)
Of course, I am Pierre, I am twenty one, I am not married and have no children. But when you are a volunteer and you read that, it makes sense.
Since I have been here, I have done many different things: ESL, food pantry, work in the new house, basketball coach… But there is also mentoring, a breath of fresh air! Twice a week, Sister Mary Ann and I organize mentoring. I arrive at the beginning of the afternoon. I set up the room while Sister Mary Ann buys some donuts and carries them to mentoring! The children arrive generally just before their mentors but in a few minutes, each mentor arrives and everybody can work in pairs. The first hour is for homework. After that, I open the gym (I think one lung of the program is the gym and the other is the donuts). So, they have the choice between the gym, games or work for the end of the program. Our goal is to help the mentors and the mentees develop positive relationships. In each situation (gym, games, work), they can learn something from each other. At the end, everybody goes home. The children can walk because they are from the neighborhood. Some of the mentors take their mentees home.
What I am waiting for? What can I do? Those are the questions I can ask for each thing I do here, not just mentoring. Because, sometimes, I ask myself: why I am doing this, now, in this place, with these people?
In France I always had enough of everything; I had a happy childhood, a happy life… I never needed anything. So, in each task I have here, I think about that. It is the reason why I became an AMA. It’s the reason why each day I am here, I wake up and I want to do my best with all of these people.
And that makes more sense in mentoring because I try to give to those kids more chances in life, the chances I had. I never wait to receive something back. I do everything for them. But one day, I received a “thanks” from a 6 year old kid and at that moment I knew what I was doing made sense. If you are looking for God: He is everybody, He is the society, He is Life. You see Him each time you feel some gladness from a person: for a child, it’s easy. You can see God in every smile.
God bless you!
Volunteer Stories and Reflections:
Mexico City, Mexico
Brendan Carey, 2009-2010