One of the hardest transitions I have made within the last couple of months during my postgraduate career was being separated from an intensive seminar-style learning environment and placed into a more professional one. I was apprehensive, but nevertheless excited about the possibilities that lie ahead once I fully committed myself to the LV program.
Before I left for Chicago, I had a mixed bag of reactions from the closet people in my life. My family was in a state of angst, my friends were excited to have a new pen pal, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect except an adventure, one life-altering, challenging adventure. Everyone, including my two lifelong best friends (my sisters), were excited, to some extent, about visiting and exploring the Midwest for the first time ever. But there was one condition: the weather had to be tolerable by “California standards” in order for them to visit. When the day came for me to go to Chicago, being the nervous, anxious aero-phobic that I was, I was not prepared to see my dad cry while he was dropping me off at 5:30 in the morning before my direct flight to the Midwest.
During my first couple of months in Chicago, feelings of nostalgia and homesickness crept in strongly. Since I’ve arrived, I have recognized more of myself as a person, and I’m gaining a better understanding as to who I am and what I ought to be. Being in an environment with like-minded, social-justice inclined people, I am recognizing what I want to do with my life
Part of my job as a retreat facilitator at the Br. David Darst Center is to challenge high school students, college students, and adults regarding what they know about issues that we, as a society, hardly talk about, such as incarceration, gang violence, food deserts, and homelessness. But simply educating people about these issues is not enough for me. I am grateful that I have been given an opportunity to do what I am doing now because I know that being more than 2,000 miles away from home has proven to be a testimony to not only to myself, but to my family, my parents, who are in every way advocates and public servants to their respective communities. Without them, I wouldn’t be here trying to find my own path, and without them, I wouldn’t have made the commitment to go to a Lasallian high school, to go to a Lasallian college, or to become an LV.
Gabriela Michel is a 1st year LV serving at the Brother David Darst Center and a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College.