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Year of Service in England

- Hye Sung

A year ago my friend Zack informed me his intentions on going away to England for a year. Of course I had questions to ask, but I accepted it immediately since his two brothers had gone to do service work before him. His eldest brother Solomon had completed a year of service throughout the US and spent time volunteering at a school in Guatemala with his wife. His other brother, Sam, went to a service program in Holland and had the chance to set up projects throughout Europe and in Ghana. Also, his twin brother had decided to attend Youth Service Initiative, the program Sam had attended, in Holland. Not only were his siblings going wild over service work, but his mother had worked with the Religious Youth Service for over ten years running projects throughout the world, some of which I attended with her (read: Paraguay). So when Zack told me about England I had responded with a calm, “Oh. When?”

Zack had gone to a program a lot different from his brothers’ volunteer work and from his mother’s line of work. CHYP (Cleeve House Youth Program) was externally about restoring an historic Edwardian home on a 200-year old property. The Cleeve House had become a wedding venue over the years, as well as a bed and breakfast. But the program had a focus on self-realization and a spiritual element where participants had time to reflect and make “internal” goals. Zack’s goal during the program was to become a more social, open person. Others had goals to become more understanding of others or to be more respectful towards others, etc.

The program’s participants work throughout the day on cleaning, construction work or tending to the animals on the property, as well as having some time for members to work on a personal “creative” project. Zack’s project was to grow a vegetable garden which produced some healthy vegetables. The program is set up so whenever you feel satisfied with your work you are allowed to leave. People came to volunteer for a few months and then had enrolled at or returned to university.

The Cleeve House stands in Wiltshire County, a county with its origins going back to the Anglo Saxons. Stonehenge is the great tourist attraction of the county, as well as the Salisbury Cathedral (which had its foundations built in 1220). The county is known for its mild temperature with a yearly average of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most importantly, Zack gained a new understanding of Europe from his stay in England. According to him, he learned to “respect the European culture and the closeness and basic cultural unity between European countries.”

For more information on CHYP, go to the website here.




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