I Chose Service – Ling Guo, Lutheran Volunteer Corps

When you are preparing to graduate, you have lots of options. This series highlights people who chose service, and how the volunteer experience has made an impact on their lives.

Name: Ling Guo
Volunteer Program: Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) 
Location: Baltimore, MD
Hometown: My family now lives in Atlanta, GA so I consider Atlanta to be my hometown. But I’ve lived in Fuzhou, China; South Carolina; and North Carolina.
College: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, May 2015, with a major in International Studies with minors in Psychology and Chinese
How did you first learn about post-graduate service?
I knew about LVC but didn’t consider it until I visited a friend from high school who was doing a LVC year in Berkley, CA.
What other options were available to you, and why did you decide on Lutheran Volunteer Corps? I was working full time at a company for almost a year when I decided on a service year. I gained technical skills and was working with a great mentor but I felt a growing dissonance between where I was and what I felt compelled to pursue. I was ready to take a chance to strengthen the values (social justice, community, sustainability) I wanted to live out and to pursue a career in international relations.
Tell us about your service experience. I work at Lutheran World Relief, an international development organization. Working at LWR helps me process injustices and disasters that happen around the world in a better way. When Hurricane Matthews hit Haiti in October, there was a flurry of action to coordinate emergency response, communication with the LWR office there, assessment of existing project sites, etc. Being a small part of that and seeing the compassion and intellect that collaborating organizations put into the response provides me hope for a resilience recovery in Haiti.
I love my community – within my LVC house and with Baltimore city. I try to attend as many (free) events in Baltimore as possible because the city has such a lively civic and arts scene. From meeting Baltimoreans to attending rallies and community discussion groups to “volunteer-ception” at different Baltimore organizations, I’m grateful for this year and hope to continue live around the area after this year of service.

What benefits have you gained from this experience that you might not have received otherwise? Six new friends and a support community! As well as training in anti-racism and peaceful communication, an opportunity to contribute to international humanitarian work, build upon my research and writing skills, explore sustainable lifestyle choices with others (such as relying on public transportation, composting, buying imperfect groceries at a discount), experience living in an area that I wanted to live at for a while, network with like organizations.
What advice do you have for someone considering post-graduate service? Be open and talk through your concerns about a service year until you have enough information to make a leap. Learn what your needs and expectations are, and what you want to see in the world so that you can be ready to name it and advocate.

To learn more about post-grad service opportunities, check out our RESPONSE directory, listing thousands of opportunities across the United States and abroad.

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