Servant of All Retrospective
Author: Alyccea Nymaessene
The Servant of All forum was launched in April 2015 as a way of aiding and encouraging TarValon.Net’s members to discuss how they can best fulfill the ultimate goal of an Aes Sedai - to be a servant of all. Since its opening, many have taken the opportunity to share the types of service they are personally involved in, discuss challenges they have faced and how they resolved them, and give credit to others who have helped them in their times of need. As this forum continues to grow and evolve, I was given the opportunity to speak with the driving force behind this movement, Siusane al’Cuyler, Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah, to look back at the history of the Servant of All program and discuss her visions for its future.
I began by asking Siusane Sedai her feelings about the progress of the forum since its inception. “I'm pleased,” she responded. “I wasn't really sure what to expect... People get in the habit of posting in their own usual places, so by adding something new, I had no idea whether or not many people would participate. But I'm happy that a fair bit of others have come in to share things.”
Where did the idea for this forum come from? “I really wanted a forum, because one of the main ways we interact at TarValon.Net is through the forums, and given the meaning of Aes Sedai, it felt like there was something missing. If service is important to the community, there should be a place to talk about it,” Siusane Sedai explained. “The idea of a forum was almost something that was suggested by several people concurrently! I had brought up the idea with the Director of Community Outreach way back when we were testing the Servant of All points program, and as we were gathering feedback, others also suggested having a specific place to talk about service in some way.”
“As for implementation,” Siusane Sedai continued, “I give credit to Aryawnah Sedai and higher-ups for approving the idea and getting a forum actually created; my part was trying to get some threads going and moderate. Initial posts were intended to be open ended and ask questions; to get people started thinking, allow for chit-chat, etc, with topics drawn from some of the different categories from the earlier Servant of All program concept.”
With any project, particularly one with such a large scope, the goals and expectations can evolve over time. I asked Siusane Sedai whether this has been the case with the Servant of All forum. “The overall goals are still the same: to have a place for general discussion, inspiration, asking questions, asking for support… at one time, knowing that some people were uncomfortable with the idea of asking for and getting points for service they do, this was seen as a different way for people to participate in being Servants of All. Of course, even now, people may be reluctant to talk about service, because it can be hard to do without feeling like you're bragging. And that makes sense - we volunteer to serve others, not to raise ourselves up. But I do think there are plenty of things to talk about besides ‘what I did…!'”
Knowing that Siusane Sedai closely monitors the Servant of All forum, I then asked about any ‘proud moments’ she has experienced while reading other members’ posts. “I always just love to hear about different kinds of service,” she responded. “There are so many fascinating ways to volunteer, some of which never would have occurred to me.”
“I was happy to see all of the threads that other people have posted. I've been touched by some of the things people have done in How Did You Help Someone Today? and also that people were willing to share in Causes Close to Our Hearts.”
I also asked Siusane Sedai whether there is a particular form of service that is of special importance to her personally. She replied, “Right now, the areas where I can actually serve in a somewhat meaningful way are my church, particularly with music, and the environment - professionally and personally, I'm a tree-hugger. I love to sing and make music, and it's nice to be able to use that to serve - I have led children's music, substituted as an organist, sung for concerts, funerals, etc, as well as being part of regular vocal and handbell choirs. Professionally, I am a landscape architect because I feel so strongly about trying to create places where development can better harmonize with nature (plus I get to tell people where to plant trees) and I do what I can to live more lightly on the planet.”
Finally, I asked Siusane Sedai about her plans for the future of the Servant of All program. “We are going to work on a series focusing on organizations instead of people. We started off recognizing a Servant of the Month, which was great, and I thought we might find some good causes that people want to tell others about next. There are some other quiet changes as well...but I'll just let those develop how they will. If anyone has suggestions, they are welcome to tell me!”
Thank you, Siusane Sedai, for giving our Tar Valon Times readers the opportunity to learn more about the history and development of this valuable program. I know I am looking forward to seeing how it continues to grow as our members continue to share ideas about how we can all be Servants of All!
What do you love about the Servant of All program, and what would you like to see more of? Let us know in the comments!