Did that just happen? Being home after ten days of Orientation for the Lasallian Volunteer (LV) Program in Romeoville, IL feels so… weird- almost surreal. I have to keep reminding myself that yes, indeed, the whirlwind of the past two months and especially those ten days of Orientation did just happen. I have a new job, new community, and new philosophy, and it all starts in a new state in three days. I feel like so much has changed both within and around me already since my first introduction to the LV tradition, that I can’t imagine the changes that will take place over the next year.
Orientation was and was not I was expecting. I expected and was excited for the busy schedule, feeling like a student again, and being a part of a team atmosphere. I expected that I would learn more about a rich Lasallian tradition that I had no idea existed, but am throwing myself into at what feels like 100 miles a minute. I expected to feel fulfilled about having a job to do. I was very excited to see all of these expectations become reality.
I did not expect that Orientation would push me and challenge me to face things I haven’t wanted to- aspects of myself which I have been struggling to accept and deal with over the past few years. I did not expect to cry while leaving people I had only known for ten days, people I felt comfortable being completely myself with after only a few hours together. I did not expect that with job training, I would also discover a new sense of identity. I did not expect that my world would be rocked.
All of this contributed to my biggest realization after Orientation: serving as an LV is SO much more than a job. This is a family, a way of life, a culture, a faith, a network, an opportunity to give back and give more of myself than I ever have before. I can’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world- I have a new support system made up of 41 LVs, five staff members, and hundreds of Lasallian Brothers and LV alumni, all in my corner- all there to help, challenge, and invest in me, and all rooting for me to succeed. I have a year to make a tangible impact on and difference in the world every single day by touching the minds and hearts of my students. I have a physical goal to work towards with the LV’s RUN Marathon in November. I have a way to grow in my faith more than I ever have, as part of a community that fosters that growth on a daily basis. I have the opportunity to become the person whom in my heart, I’ve always been, but haven’t fully accepted or shared with the world up to this point.
I have never felt so blessed. In a time when I felt more loss, doubt, fear, and insecurity than ever, God gave me hope, faith, strength, and confidence. And hugs. A minimum of one a day, to be exact 😀 The love, support, and inspiration I have entered into- the most amazing, AMAZING people I have the chance to form relationships with- I am just so happy. I know my life has just become so much bigger than I could have ever imagined it.
And it feels like… heaven.
Katie Delaney, 12-13, John XXIII Educational Center, Racine, WI