During my time as an LV, people frequently have asked me a fair amount of questions. What does your service look like? How did you get involved with the Lasallian Volunteers? Do you like living with a Christian Brother? No, seriously, do you like living with a Christian Brother? At this point of the year, I have a routine response to all these questions. However, there was a simple question that made me really reflect on my journey this year.
I decided to go back home one last time before the school year came to a conclusion. One of my family traditions is to sit around the fire pit in our backyard and have a conversation. My mother asked me a question. Was it worth it? Was it worth it to give up an entire year to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Was it worth all the sacrifices?
I sat there in silence and wondered. Was it worth it? Those days where no matter how many times I asked the students to stay quiet, they responded by talking louder. When I thought there couldn’t possibly be more to do, more work was waiting around the corner. How about those relatives who told me that I can’t make a difference and that I’m wasting my time. Or to watch my best friends progress in their careers and I’m still questioning what I want to do. What about those sleepless nights where I ask God if the future is going to look better. How about living in a community, yet at times, I still felt alone. Was it worth it?
Throughout the year, people asked if I enjoy my time in Rhode Island and the service that I do. I wouldn’t even think about it and say yes. Do I actually believe that or was I just answering to make the conversation short? Did I enjoy this year of service or did I just convince myself that I did? Maybe I was so desperate that all I could do was become a volunteer and I really didn’t have the heart for it. For most of the year, I didn’t know if I actually believed in my answer. I just wasn’t sure.
But although I have every reason to think this year was a mistake, I start to think about those moments that put a smile on my face. When the students come up with a cool nickname for me and I have to tell them they can’t call me that. But deep down inside, I couldn’t be happier. Or the one student who can’t stop dancing and I tell him to cut it out, but turn so he doesn’t see me smirking. When I stop and think, I loved taking the 5th grade class to Vermont on their weeklong farm trip. I never thought I would see 16 boys so excited waking up at six in the morning to clean a barn. How about those days where I feel like I can’t do anything right, but the school staff lifts me up and tells me that I’m doing great. All the great memories like running my first 5K in Tucson, developing friendships with other Lasallian Volunteers, and all the Christian Brothers who genuinely care about my well-being.
As I look back, I would never trade these memories. I would never trade my time with the students and staff at San Miguel Middle School. I would never trade meeting the Brothers and the other Lasallian Volunteers that are now my friends. I would never trade all the growth that I achieved during this year. I would never trade my experience as a Lasallian Volunteer.
So yes. It was worth it.
Jin Su Seo is first-year LV serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Providence, RI and a 2016 graduate of St. Mary’s College of California.