At the end of July 2020, I stepped onto the set of the Lasallian version of one of my favorite comfort shows: New Girl. I drew this comparison in my early days here in Tucson: a young girl moving in with three guys and getting into a bunch of shenanigans. Instead of Schmidt, Nick and Winston, I moved into community with Brother Jesús, Brother Jack and Brother Martin. Much like Jess, I did have to warn the Brothers about how emotional I am and how often I sing to myself.
I am sure my fellow LVs would agree that community life has changed a lot during the pandemic. Community outings, celebratory dinners and socials all look a little different than they have in the past. As a first-year volunteer, this is the only version of community life I have known. Living in community during a period of quarantine, as well as being the only volunteer, has allowed for a lot more time in community and more intimate relationships with my fellow community members. Of course, there are things that I feel sad to be “missing out” on during my time here in Tucson; I would have loved the opportunity to see the annual Gem Show or Festival of Books. However, the unique circumstances of my service year have allowed for special experiences that would not have occurred otherwise. All of my favorite moments from the past six months have taken place within the walls of our community and that has helped be feel welcomed and invested in the San Miguel Tucson Community.
Volunteering at a high school during a global pandemic means that I rarely see the students I am serving. While this is disappointing, it has made the interactions and relationships I do have with students all the more meaningful. I was recently on a Zoom call with one of our student organizations where we just spent some time talking and getting to know each other better. That hourlong call was so mood-lifting for me. It is easy to get bogged down in this work, especially when you are doing it all through a screen. However, deepening my relationships with the three students I had the opportunity to connect with was just the encouragement I needed. Educators tend to draw their energy from the classroom and in a time where we rarely see our students, the moments we get to spend with them make all the difference.
If you are a fan of the show New Girl, you know that Jess is also an educator. While I am able to draw so many comparisons between our two experiences, I also hope that I give off her same bubbly, positive and encouraging energy in my role as a volunteer. On days where I feel down about being in a new place with new people or am experiencing severe screen fatigue, it is a nice way to remind myself of the type of person I want to be for our students.
Kelsey Morrisson is a first-year LV serving at San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona. She is a 2020 graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee, with a degree in psychology.