A recurring quote in my community is the saying, “You make plans, and God laughs.” This saying resonates with me because I am a planner in every sense of the word. I enjoy living my life with the comfort of knowing what will come next. I plan for things to go as planned, and if they veer off course then I am not a happy camper. That is what made my LV application process so unique, because it was not exactly “planned.”
Let’s set the scene: I have a few weeks left in college at the University of Rhode Island, where I have just wrapped up my student teaching and am counting down the days until graduation. Over the past few months, I had put all of my energy into applying to a local graduate school program, only to be denied. I had put all my eggs into one basket, knowing that the chance of getting a job as a teacher right out of college in Rhode Island was not very likely. In Rhode Island, teaching jobs are few and far between, even more so for someone like me with limited teaching experience. I felt my future slipping out of my control and I didn’t know what to do.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and this experience was no different. Just a few days after hearing back about grad school, I received an email from the Lasallian Volunteers staff encouraging me to apply to be an LV before the final deadline that was a few short weeks away. The email explained that there were limited spaces and sites available, but still encouraged all to apply. I had signed up to receive information about this program in the fall, but had chosen applying to grad school over this avenue. Applying to be an LV had been moved to the back burner, and I hadn’t considered it as any part of my future plan.
I toyed with the idea of replying to the email from the LV staff simply for the fact that I had nothing to lose, and I ended up doing so. I responded by asking if there were any service sites still available where I could teach, explaining my current situation. I wrote that this next year was crucial to my professional career so I needed to spend it gaining teaching experience in a classroom to work towards my dream of being a teacher. Katie Christensen, recruitment coordinator, responded right away by saying that they did still have spaces available in the program that would fit my needs for the next year, while also providing me with a multitude of other reasons to apply. Feeling uncertain yet optimistic, I applied.
Within days, the staff got back to me and scheduled an interview. Katie was so welcoming and helpful; answering all my questions and inserting helpful tidbits of information about her experience as an LV. This made me feel so comfortable with her and eased me into opening up to the idea of taking part in this program. The process moved along quickly and within a short period of time I was accepted into the program and notified of my potential site. Through the staff’s support and belief in me, they affirmed me in my decision to say yes to moving across the country. Their understanding of all the factors that came into play in my unique decision making process provided me with the extra boost of confidence that I needed to make my decision. For me it was not so much saying yes, as it was how could I possibly say no to this once in a lifetime opportunity?!
The support that the staff provided me with throughout the application process helped me to trust not only in them but also in God; that this program would lead me to where He needed me to be in my year of service as an LV. And yes, that did mean leaving the state that I had spent my whole life in surrounded by the most supportive family and friends, to move across the country to San Francisco, California. Some days I wake up here and still cannot believe that I said yes to this experience. But then I realize that I did not say yes for myself, that instead I said yes to God. Every day I say yes to Him and to the unplanned: to the lessons gone array and the Facetimes at all hours of the night with family and friends back home due to the time difference. To the whirlwind of this ever-changing city that I live in, and to the opportunity to shape young lives while changing my own in the process. I say yes to all of that because of Him, and because of the faith that I have in this program.
So, if you’re reading this and are even remotely thinking of applying, the moral of my story is JUST DO IT. If you have a question or something that is holding you back from applying, reach out to someone to get an answer. Ask a staff member, a current LV or an LV alum; there are so many of us who can help you! If I hadn’t taken that leap of faith and been direct with Katie in asking her about the program, I can guarantee you that I would not be where I am today:
-Teaching in an amazing school and gaining immense experience and support as a first
-Learning to love myself for who I am and where I am at right now in my life.
-And most of all, deepening my relationship with God through His presence in all aspects
of my life.
I didn’t plan on getting that email from the LV staff, and I didn’t originally plan on replying to it or eventually applying for the program, but I did, and the results have been life changing. Planned or unplanned, there was a reason this program came into my life and I am embracing it each and every day of my service year.
So, no, this year of service may not have been what a planner like me had in mind, but yes it is what I was called to do. And if you feel that call like I did, then this program will be the perfect fit for you too.
Abbey Sorensen is first-year LV serving at De Marillac Academy in San Francisco, California and a 2012 graduate of La Salle Academy, Providence.