When I first started at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, one of the main things that was illustrated to me by the campus minister was to be there for the students. At first it seemed rather obvious that this is something to follow with my position. However, as time passed, I began to better understand what it meant.
The campus ministry office where I primarily work is located in the back of Bishop Loughlin’s cafeteria. This location offers students the opportunity to visit campus ministry so they can hang out during their free periods, eat lunch, catch up with friends, or have that space away from other distractions when they wish. When I have flexibility in my schedule, I interact with students who visit. I enjoy having the time to speak to them about their day, catching up with them when we have our “Theater Thursdays” and the students come in for a movie and popcorn, getting to know them better in our biweekly freshman festival for first year students during their lunch, Talk it Out Tuesday with all students who come in, or something as simple as playing the game Uno.
During lunch periods when students come in to hang out and relax, I try to play games such as Uno with them so I can get to know them better and catch up. At first, I just saw this as a simple game, but as time passed, I began to see this game as an analogy of the importance of being present. The goal of Uno is to get to one card and then be done with the game, and there’s power in having that one card. When I interact with my students, I now better understand just how important being present with them is. Even something so simple and reassuring as looking someone in the eye, acknowledging them as human and that they matter, shows the true power in presence.
Being present with someone can be one of the most important things in life. It is so important because it shows that everyone matters and that they are respected and being heard. So as I go forward in this year and keep playing Uno and interacting with my students, I will better understand and keep in mind the power in the presence of even just one.
Aldontae Guess is a first-year volunteer serving at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, New York, where he serves as the student life volunteer. He is a 2019 graduate of Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, with a degree in psychology.