A year of changes

It is almost too hard to believe but my voluntary service at the Coventry Cathedral and with the CCN is dangerously close to coming to an end – well, even though saying at the Cathedral and calling the end dangerous might be not quite right… But still, having settled into the work, the team and the network throughout the past year makes me feel like I’ve built a strong connection to the place from a distance, and the thought of setting off for a new chapter gets me both excited and nervous.

My experience as the Cathedral’s intern was going to be different to previous ones, I knew that as soon as I applied for a year abroad in a time where the world’s rhythm paused for a while and then came back at a much slower pace – also known as the pandemic. Even greater was my excitement and gratitude when we heard that the projects would go on and we could actually go, despite all the circumstances and barriers. Throughout this year, we all had to adapt to new arrangements and different realities, so I did too, learning to accept the given and focusing on the good of every situation to be grateful for what I can do. Living in London meant I wouldn’t be able to be in Coventry and on site on a regular basis, but it also meant getting to live with other young people and exploring a city that has fascinated me ever since. Working only part time as the Cathedral’s intern allowed me to get involved in the incredible work of my second project, the Roma Support Group London, so I got the opportunity to experience not one, but two amazing workspaces and areas. And while working remotely for the Cathedral, I had the time to really become a part of the CCN network to get a much deeper insight into its projects and diverse partners. I would’ve never thought one could connect with people all over the world by only meeting each other online for a year, brought together through sharing the same beliefs, values and visions. It was truly inspiring to see the passion and dedication that all the lovely people involved in the community bring with them to turn ideas into reality and to enable the network to grow and progress further.

And as much as I enjoyed supporting the CCN, my visits to Coventry always turned out as being highlights of my service. Being on site brought the Coventry Way to life for me, being welcomed into wide opened arms and feeling the spirit of the place as the centre of everything happening there. Every single encounter showed me the strong sense of hospitality that is lived in and around the Cathedral, whether staff, volunteer or visitor. I owe huge gratitude and appreciation to the whole team and Alice in particular, who is not only doing an incredible job with coordinating the CCN, but also with coordinating this ever-changing year of a voluntary service as the patient, positive, imaginative and supportive person she is. Creating this year’s internship was a first time for everyone involved to the same extent as it was for me, and it is not a natural course of action that it was such an enriching and precious time to experience. For me, it was a true honour to have worked here.

 

The litany on Fine’s last day in Coventry, with Richard and Cerys

Looking forward, I will certainly take a lot of the past year’s experiences with me and will be reminded of my time in England more than once while taking my next steps. In autumn, I will move to Mainz in Rhineland-Palatinate to start my studies in psychology and psychotherapy, and I am much looking forward to this, even though it means to restart all over again. And as frightening as a new start can be, having lived here really changed my perception of it. I feel more confident to face new surroundings, meeting new people and living independently. I’ve grown personally, learnt to be more patient, optimistic, and flexible. I got to broaden my horizons by listening and learning about the history we can share, issues of the present we can work on and visions for the future we can believe in. And with that said, one thing is for sure: Wherever my way will lead to, Coventry Cathedral will always have a safe and special place in my heart.

Josefine Ufkes

CCN Thought for the Week for 13th August – Farewell from Josefine Ufkes, our reconciliation intern
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