John Dixon

Service Site: St. Gabriel’s Hall in Audubon, PA

College: Saint Mary’s College of California

What do you do?
I work as a teacher’s assistant in the subjects of math, history, and reading comprehension. I also act as a counseling aid and role model for the students.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?  Have your hopes about the program been realized?
I chose to become a Lasallian Volunteer for a lot of reasons.  The first being I wanted to explore a new part of the country.  I was curious to know if I could adjust to a new atmosphere and embrace it.  This hope was met because, though it was a big adjustment, I was patient with myself and grew to enjoy living there and was sad to leave.  I also joined because I have heard of my much disappointment the youth of the country has faced in education and wanted to aid.  As I have been blessed to have such valued education I wanted to share it with others who don’t have that privilege.  This hope was met as I was able to pass on what I was taught to students who have faced much adversity in their lives.  Also, it was met because I was able to empathized with them how much of struggle school can be and encouraged them to be patient with themselves in understanding the material.  Thankfully they grew to thrive in school more than they had before and my hope is that they continue to do so.  Finally, why I chose to join LV was to serve a cause beyond myself and hopefully make a difference in that cause.  This hope was met and surpassed because when any one of my students had a better day than the previous one, the cause was being served.

What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you? What do you do to try to provide this?

The most important “thing” I think my students need from me is to be present with them.  To acknowledge my interest in them; ask how their family is, attend after-school football game and cheer them on; to engage them outside of the classroom in order to establish trust with them.  This helps them to realize that there are people who care about and strive to help them.  Students can believe that they are alone and need to feel that they are in a place of care and protection.

What is the most challenging obstacle that your students face?  How do your school and your own outreach try to empower them to overcome this obstacle?
The most challenging obstacle that the students face is making the time they spend at our treatment center as effective as possible.  The students have faced much adversity in their lives and it has left a lasting impression.  As the students are admitted for only a nine to twelve month period there is a limited time to provide them with proper education, counseling, etc…  Therefore, we do our best to utilize the time we have with them and to make the help we provide more lasting.  From my observation I have learned the best medicine to provide for them is a pair of listening ears.  As I said before the students need to know that people care about, therefore, when they feel troubled listening to them and offering counsel allows them to feel safe and cared for.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
If you are curious to learn more about yourself and discover new talents then the LV program is a great way to find out.

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