Beginnings and endings always seem to be wrapped up in each other. The sweetest moments are often those that encompass both.
My time as a Lasallian Volunteer is another example of this. Leaving home, receiving my diploma, and traveling across the country to begin my year of service brought me to the end of one journey, even as another one began. Before I forget, my name is Ian Robertson, he/him/his pronouns, I am from Seattle, Washington, and I attended Saint Mary’s College of California for my undergraduate degree. I’m a Scorpio and an avid baker, and a fun fact about me is that I am ambidextrous.
I spent most of my life surrounded by the teachings and ideals of the Lasallian mission without ever knowing that’s what they were. In college I learned about our Founder, the mission and the way it has taken on modern times. For me, being a volunteer is more than just a job; I’m more than just a teacher in a Lasallian school. In the short time I have been a part of this program, I have come to realize the profound importance Lasallian institutions place on community and service, and how they instill those principles in their members and the students entrusted to their care. If you were ever taught by the Christian Brothers, you know the Five Core Principles: Faith in the Presence of God, Respect for All Persons, Quality Education, Concern for the Poor and Social Justice, and Inclusive Community. They represent the essence of Lasallian Volunteers, and you see that every day in community, in the classroom and all the moments in between as a volunteer.
One of the things I appreciate the most about this program is the conscious engagement and encouragement to become better people. Growth comes naturally as we work and teach at the ministries in which we serve, but in addition to what comes with time, this program brings to our attention issues that require our understanding: racism, classicism, misogyny, homophobia and many other forms of prejudice that our faith calls us to renounce. Too many people are unwilling to acknowledge the work that still must be done. It is both challenging and reassuring to have this set as a priority for all volunteers equally.
My first month has brought on a variety of challenges, both foreseen and unexpected. Missing home, fear of failing my colleagues and students, seemingly endless compromise—just to name a few. But I can say without hesitation that this experience is one I would not give up. I have given of myself in service and received infinitely more in return, and there is so much more to come.
“Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”
― Tennessee Williams
Ian Robertson is a first-year LV serving at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, New York. Ian is a 2021 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.