A year ago today, I was a different person in a difficult position. I was overwhelmed by the sensory overload of moving to a faraway place where I knew almost no one, getting used to “nine-to-five” life, living in community with people I barely knew, and being surrounded by the Catholic faith more than ever before.
Needless to say, it was an incredibly stressful adjustment, and if you had asked me in October 2013 whether I was going to do a second year of volunteering, I would have said, “Nope.” I would have told you that I would much prefer to be back on the east coast with my family, receiving an annual salary instead of a stipend, and not constantly adjusting to changes around me.
I was certain that being a Lasallian Volunteer would not be as rewarding as I originally thought it could be. However, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Choosing to remain an LV for a second year was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made but also one of the best decisions of my life. I felt a faint pull, a need to be more fulfilled in my part of the mission. I knew that there was something more for me to do, although I wasn’t sure exactly what that was.
My doubts and questions were answered as soon as I started my service this year. Everything has fallen into place, and I feel as though I might actually be making a small difference. I am more confident in my abilities to educate my students and help them succeed. I am more comfortable with my faith and have found ways to integrate it into my daily life. I am lucky enough to have been supported in these two Lasallian pillars by the third: my community.
So when my 2nd hour student tells me how my tutoring has been helping her in algebra, I know I made the right decision. When I feel moved during evening prayer, I know. And when I realize that I have made some great friends within my community, I know. Everything I went through last year wasn’t easy, but it’s clear to me now how valuable each part of this experience has been.
Clare O’Connell is a 2nd year LV serving at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a 2013 graduate of Manhattan College.