Thanks From a Belle H. Bennett Fellow
I have spent the last ten months as a Belle H. Bennett fellow at Scarritt Bennett Center. The Belle H. Bennett House Fellowship program is a 10-month program for female leaders who are committed to social justice. During the program, fellows explore the intersections of race, class, gender, and many other identities. We engage in social justice and anti-oppression work though our site placements and our involvements in the Nashville community. We also focus heavily on self care, community buildings, activism, and spiritual discernment.
During my time at Scarritt Bennett, I have served as an intern to the Education, Programs, and Connections Office working on projects/events around the empowerment of women, eradication of racism, and transformative education. I also had the opportunity to work at Conexión Américas as my site placement. There I was able to serve as the educational programs intern. Another huge part of my fellowship year has been living in intentional community with four other women. We have enjoyed community dinners and weekend movie nights. In the program we are also all assigned to a spiritual director. My spiritual director and I have enjoyed many meals and insightful conversations together.
When I decided to come to Nashville after graduating college, I was not sure what to expect. I only knew 5 things for sure:
1. I would deeply miss my friends and family.
2. I needed to brush up on my Country music.
3. I had to find a skate park close to my house.
4. I had to imagine what it would be like living with 4 other complete strangers.
5. Everything happens for a reason.
As I learned more about the fellowship, my nerves calmed down and I started asking the more serious questions:
1. What am I suppose to do at my site placement?
2. What does it mean to live in intentional community?
3. Who are these four other women?
4. What should I bring to Nashville?
5. What do I want to gain from my time in Nashville?
This year in many ways has been different from what I expected but it has taught me how to manage the unexpected (and I have never been good at that)! In the beginning, I was over eager and excited about everything. In the middle I was stressed with graduate school applications and homesick. Now, at the end, as I look back, I am thankful.
Below are some of the many things I am grateful for:
I am thankful for my relationship with God.
I am thankful for my family and friends who have supported me during my time in this program and always.
I am thankful for the mentorship, guidance, and support I have received from Scarritt Bennett Center’s staff.
I am thankful for Marie, her investment and leadership in this program, and her dedication to justice.
I am thankful for Claire, our Field Education Intern who has become a friend and mentor to us.
I am thankful for Cayce, who is always willing to listen and provide me with constructive feedback.
I am thankful for Anita, Emily, Jaime, and Judith who challenge, inspire, and affirm me.
I am thankful for the staffs at Conexión Américas and Casa Azafrán who have become great friends and colleagues.
I am thankful for my spiritual director, Beverly for her love and help on my journey.
I am thankful for all the friends I have met here, who have been welcoming and supportive.
I am thankful for all the presenters we met on Tuesdays in our seminar and the vast array of information we learned.
I am thankful for the Women to Women program and our monthly meetings.
I am thankful for Mellow Mushroom’s Monday Night Trivia and the best waiter ever, Brandon.
I am thankful for the skate park in downtown.
I am thankful for Vanderbilt’s Rehabilitation Services and the physical therapists who helped me strengthen my legs.
I am thankful for Tuesday’s in the Chapel and the many speakers who have inspired my spirituality.
I am thankful for Jimmy John’s, Chipotle, Sitar and Go Go Sushi for all the nights I could not get myself to cook.
I am thankful for having the time to focus on caring for myself.
I am thankful for music and free concerts.
Lastly, I am thankful for Nashville’s hospitality.
Elena Rosario is a 2014 graduate of Connecticut College who majored in History. She is currently a fellow for the Belle H. Bennett House at the Scarritt Bennett Center where she is living in an intentional community and interning at Conexión Américas in Nashville, Tennessee. Elena will be pursuing a doctoral degree in History at University of Michigan in the fall 2015.