It has been over a month since I started my journey as a Lasallian Volunteer, and I have already learned an invaluable amount of knowledge about myself and what being part of a social justice initiative means, looks like and feels like. I by no means know the definitive definition or picture of what that may look like; no one does. I’m pretty sure I will be learning what that means until the day that I die. But figuring that out – and my role in that as a volunteer – is a never-ending process. However, I believe that I was given quite a few tips before I even fathomed becoming a Lasallian Volunteer.
From where you ask?
Companions and volunteers experience many of the same things. They travel to new places, with new people/beings and cultures with the intention of learning and serving those who may need a helping hand. We say goodbye to people that we wish they had more time with. We rejoice at the small victories, and weep for the setbacks and losses we experience. The main difference is that I have never ridden in a TARDIS (time machine), unfortunately.
- Be open minded and ready for anything. I am going to be in a new place, with new situations and new challenges that may be unfamiliar to my Whether it is a cultural norm of the community I am serving, or the customs of the Ood, I need to be able to adapt.
- Take my time to think about my intentions and their impact, sometimes when I try to help, the impact I make may not match my intentions. These things take a lot of research and communication. If I don’t invest time into those things, then I may wind up like Vincent Van Gogh, who stabbed a blind and misunderstood Krafayis, who was just trying to make his way in a world where the odds were against him.
- Remember that everyone is important, throughout all time (at least 900 years) and space, the Doctor has never met someone who wasn’t important and neither will I.
- Remember that I am here to help, and that I can’t help everyone. The work to fix problems cannot be done by one person. I can’t walk into a situation with the same assumption as the Queen of Years, who thought she had to sing alone to maintain peace. A chorus, of those who want the same peace are behind you.
- Never give up hope or lose my faith in humanity. Things work out the way they should in the end. As the Doctor says, “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.”
- Try not to become jaded after setbacks or if I don’t accomplish all that I hope to with those I serve. As the Doctor told Amy, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
- Serve with the determination
- Love often, because people come and go, but what I do and the moments and memories I share with those that I meet always remain…unless I am Donna Nobel. No, I am not crying… you’re crying.
- Don’t forget to explore, and remember that there is always something to learn because where I am is “one corner… of one country, in one continent, on one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy that’s a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And there is so much, so much to see.”
- Remember that the pain I see, experience and feel from working with those who I serve is worth more than just the pain that I feel. Transform it to keep going and do better. It is easy to let it swallow you. The Doctor has his fair share of pain from the injustice he witnesses, much like us… his advice to us is that “you hold it tight… Til it burns your hand. And you say this – no one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will ever have to feel this pain. Not on my watch.”
- Remember that I am not alone. Myself and others (whether they are volunteers, people I work with, strangers or my community) want the best for everyone around me, especially those that we serve.
- Always keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities, the stories of those who I serve, and for the TARDIS.
These lessons have helped me become a better volunteer, before I even knew that I was going to be a Lasallian Volunteer. These are the tips and lessons that I keep in my back pocket, with my sonic screwdriver.
I leave you with this question and ask you to reflect:
Who has inspired you and given you tips during your service or to live out the Lasallian mission?
I hope you are all well and ready to hop into tomorrow yelling “Geronimo!” and continue to encourage those around you, and “Allons-y” especially if their name is Alonso.
Carly Cohen is first-year LV serving at the Br. David Darst Center in Chicago, Illinois and a 2016 graduate of La Salle University.