The 2021-2022 Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) gathered for the Midyear Retreat from March 11-13, 2022, in Albany, New York. Originally scheduled for mid-January, the retreat was postponed due to the surge in COVID cases at that time. This is the first time since January 2020 that an entire cohort of LVs gathered in person. Their time together was energizing, fruitful and life-giving.
First-year LV Shayna Ortiz, a member of the LaSalle School community, along with her community member and fellow first-year LV Ian Robertson, hosted the LVs for the retreat weekend. In reflecting upon the experience, Ortiz shared, “Hosting the final cohort for the Midyear Retreat was easily one of the most rewarding experiences ever. Having an opportunity to welcome a cohort of Lasallians who share a desire to serve, share and educate as Lasallians is a gift left unseen. We are an undeniable cohort of insanely talented individuals, and to be able to share that with the LaSalle School community in Albany was a true gift.”
The weekend was facilitated by Yolanda Franco, LV 14-16, current Lasallian Volunteers Advisory Board vice chair. Franco shared, “As an alum who greatly benefited from the accompaniment provided during the Midyear Retreat, I wanted to create a sense of solidarity among the 21-22 LV cohort. All of the volunteers are in a unique transitionary period while having to navigate their day-to-day activities. With a combination of small and big group reflections the LVs engaged in intrapersonal work. Many of the LVs were meeting for the first time and yet were open to being vulnerable with one another. I’m hopeful the reflective time together will propel these last months as volunteers and further their sense of vocation and solidarity to one another.”
This current cohort has spent a significant amount of time on Zoom together. While we’ve learned during the pandemic that it is possible to foster relationships virtually, being together is just as, if not more, important. Through their interactions with one another over the course of the year, they’ve shared their ups and downs. Anjelika Angosta, a second-year LV serving at San Miguel School in Chicago, Illinois, shared, “To be completely honest, I came into this weekend feeling very hesitant. I was coming into this shared space in a very different place compared to the rest of the individuals in my cohort. For the past two years, I’ve done a lot of work—none of it was easy—in sharing my real stories and raw emotions with strangers through a screen. I had to be vulnerable before even getting to know my cohort. But as the weekend went on, I had a shift in perspective: it was my turn to sit back and listen to their stories since I had already gone through the hardest parts of sharing mine with them.”
Christian Camacho, a first-year LV serving at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, drew from a quote from The Before Trilogy in which the character, Natalia, says, “Like sunlight, sunset, we appear, we disappear. And we are so important to some, but we are just passing through.” For Camacho, “These words flew through the Albany community as each hour had passed. We knew we would be the last cohort, but it didn’t feel like it. It felt as if we were just getting started, and we would soon be welcoming the next cohort. ‘Passing through’ fellow LV, Diana Carey, said to me as we parted ways at TSA; Only this time, I heard the strength of our cohort behind their voice.”
The 2021-2022 LVs will gather in person one final time as a cohort for the Debriefing Retreat at La Salle Manor in Plano, Illinois, from May 27-30, 2022.