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My internship with L'Arche Heartland was one of the most influential experiences of my life. When I began my internship I had never worked with people with disabilities before, so I was understandably nervous. But more importantly I was looking for some true-to-life experiences and real relationships. And that's exactly what I found.

As an intern I was able to experience life in different houses regularly and there was so much to learn. Not only did I learn about how to provide direct care to core members, but I learned valuable interpersonal skills and how to live intentional relationships. Core members are some of the most fun people to get to know because they are so unapologetically themselves. They are not shy about the things they like or dislike. They own their individuality and are unafraid to be exactly who they are, flaws and all. And I have come to learn that intentional relationships mean if you are willing to accept them for exactly who they are, then they will accept you and your flaws too. And that's what I found so beautiful about L'Arche Heartland. I had never before been around so many people, core members and assistants alike, who loved each other for their unique gifts and flaws. I also learned quickly to roll with the punches that come with living such authentic relationships. There were days that I would arrive and be greeted with hugs, and there were days that I was met with the stony silence of tension brewing. But no matter how the day began I knew we could work through it together and be smiling and laughing by the end of the night. It's not an easy task to live so intentionally but it is the most rewarding. Everyday I was challenged to be vulnerable and allow these new people to know me. And it was difficult to let down my guards and let the core members know me in a very real way. But I found that the days I was comfortable enough to open myself were the days I grew the most. These were the days I forged true friendships and tested the limits of my capabilities. And the more I did, the more often I felt I could do it again and again. So by the end of my internship I had the most amazing friends for life. In L'Arche Heartland I had found people who were dedicated to each other and to the life they are living together. 

-Rebecca Molner, Psychology Intern, 2015