Megan Alexander-Short: A Spirit of Service on the Real Journey

“On International Volunteer Day, we recognize the dedication of volunteers, their admirable spirit of service…With the world population having surpassed seven billion this year we must tap every person’s potential to help others. Everyone can make a difference. Volunteering matters.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Volunteer Day
for Economic and Social Development
5 December 2011

During a recent morning prayer in the Lasallian Community of Portland, I was introduced to a quote by Wendell Berry:

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Before I began my year as a Lasallian Volunteer here at De La Salle North Catholic in Portland, Oregon, I liked order,  preferred guidelines, needed plans, and lived for organization. I had a hard time with the unknown.

Megan Alexander-Short, 12-13, De La Salle North Catholic High School

When I became an LV I had no idea what to really expect. Before moving to Portland I did not have a chance to visit the school I did not know the people I would be serving or those with whom I would be working. I had never met Sarah and Daniel (our community directors). I also did not know where I would be living. Because of transitions in the Portland community, there was even some talk about sleeping in a tent in a backyard at some point. I did not know what my job completely entailed until the Friday before the first day of school. There were more unknowns and question marks than answers. Here is the most remarkable part, for the first time in my life I was completely calm and comfortable with all the unknowns that were piling up in my life.

After only a few months, I have completely fallen in love with this school and the people I have met here. I feel as if I have fallen into a routine that is totally new to me. I look forward to everyday as a challenge. The whole school has been so welcoming. I have grown and learned so much as a person through working here. The real work began almost right way. Everyone working here has the motto of “I am here for the students,” and this usually means filling in where needed. The job description that I was given in the beginning does not paint the full picture of the tasks that I do to fill my day. The last line of my job description says something like, “other duties as assigned”. This one line is frequently utilized. I feel as if I have fully embraced the motto of everyone else at the school. Becoming a Lasallian Volunteer has changed me. I am not just a volunteer I am Lasallian, I have fully embraced this new job and life here in Portland.

It was not until I read Wendell Berry’s poem that I realize that I am on my real journey and doing the real work. I believe this to be true for most, if not all, of the Lasallian Volunteers this year and in years past. International Volunteer Day this year falls again on December 5th. This day is to recognize those who volunteer within the United States and all over the world. I would like to especially acknowledge all of the Lasallian Volunteers of other regions serving all over the world and their dedication to those whom we serve. Though there is a day to recognize the dedication of volunteers and their spirit of service, we know that we are the ones who are most grateful.

We are all doing the real work and on our real journey.

Megan Alexander-Short, 12-13, De La Salle North Catholic High School

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