My story up to this point is long: I studied all of grade school at La Salle Paterna, the school where my father and a large part of my family studied and where my grandfather worked. I studied there for 12 years and learned many things, some in my head and some in my heart. After my time as a student, I continued as a volunteer with my La Salle Scout 214 group and with the Young Lasallian Association. I also began to work as an educator in the school where I attended for many years. The years have been complicated, with lights and shadows, not exactly easy personally but I was able to compensate for that with the work in my school, the affection of my colleagues and, above all, the affection of my students in Spain. I continued to make progress. I was the president of Young Lasallians, a delegate from ARLEP (the Lasallian District for Spain and Portugal) in the RELEM Young Lasallian Council in Rome. In addition to this, from its’ beginning six years ago, I began the Algo Más Lasallian community with Brothers and Young Lasallians from my city.
So, many of you will be asking yourselves, as my family and friends are asking me, “What am I doing here? Why did I leave everything and come to a place that I have never heard of?” Well, very simply, I came looking for HAPPINESS. And it’s not that I didn’t have it in Spain, in fact I lived more comfortably than here, with my family, friends, students and routine but I took a risk and decided that a radical change in my life was going to be what would make me happy—and it has. To live as an LV in a community with other volunteers and Brothers, to share moments, to cook for everyone, to do things together, to work in the same way and to paddle your own canoe, as Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the scout movement, would say.
The John XXIII Educational Center is a center that belongs to the parish of St. Patrick and where I have been working for a few months as a high school classroom coordinator and assistant director. It offers review and extension classes in the afternoons, where I spend most of my time here. We also offer English as a second language classes, art classes, sessions for married couples, communion and confirmation catechesis, and academic support classes for the youth of Racine. Not only do we help them with their homework and exams, but the center was started with the goal of improving the morale and self-esteem of some of the most frustrated and depressed young people in the city. In addition to all this, we visit public schools to offer orientation courses and emotional coaching to the young people who need it the most. The most amazing thing about this is that the center is completely free. Students and families do not have to pay anything, each family contributes with what they can, whether it is a few dollars or a package of paper or some snacks for the holidays.
My day here is varied. Usually in the morning I have different meetings, I spend time in the office of the center, visit the post office, or prepare the classes and the seminars and meetings as an assistant director. I also lead workshops in Racine schools. Currently I help in the Lady of Grace School. In the afternoon we have two sessions that are one and a half hours each. I supervise the high school classroom. I am there for the two sessions that we have from Monday to Thursday where I organize the homework of my students. I encourage them to look for new challenges and volunteer proposals; I coordinate the incentive program with prizes every week; and I organize the breakthrough activities (motivational workshops, how to use social networks safely, team building, etc.) every two weeks. In short, I support and supervise the students who come to my class, and I give them all the support, skills and resources that are possible.
If there is one thing that I learned in my many years as a scout in La Salle, it is “try and leave this world a little better than when you found it,” as I understand it, each one from their own perspective has to follow this premise, whether you are a lawyer, a baker or an educator, as is my case. And if I have to travel to India with my girls from Gente Pequeña, go to Peru with my friends from CEBE 11 in Abancay or at Casa Benedicta community in Racine, I will do so and try to leave my mark on all the people I meet along the way. This road has not yet ended, as our founder said, “one commitment led to another in a way that I did not foresee in the beginning,” since this is another step in my Lasallian life that I hope will continue for a long time and I can wear out the soles of my shoes more, as a Lasallian, as a scout, as an educator and as a volunteer.
And in response to the question, if I achieved my goal of being happier. Yes, I achieved it, and I think I transmit it day by day to my students here and to my friends in Spain. Now the most difficult thing remains for me: to follow this path and see what the next step will be on this road to my happiness and help others.
My name is Pepe Esteso. I am 29 years old and even though I was born and have spent all my life in Spain, I currently live in Racine, Wisconsin, and serve at the John XXIII Educational Center as a first-year LV.
Pepe Esteso is a first-year volunteer serving at John XXIII Educational Center in Racine, Wisconsin, as the high school supervisor and outreach coordinator. He is a 2011 graduate of University of Valencia and also attended Colegio La Salle Paterna Spain.