Monthly Archives: January 2013

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Katie Delaney: National Hug Day

“If you were governor for the day, what would be your first policy?”  The question, posed by our social justice speaker during one of the first days of the Lasallian Volunteer (LV) Orientation, rang in the air, full of importance and intimidation. My answer was pivotal- this could determine how my fellow LVs would view me for the rest of the year. After a few “education reforms,” “increased pay for teachers,” etcetera 41 faces turned towards me. “If I were governor for the day, I would make a law that everyone must receive at least one hug a day.” Six months later, it seems only fitting that I write the LV Shared Blog post a day after National Hug Day. National Hug Day? That was yesterday? Apparently, there were some other observances yesterday that trumped this great holiday.

As with most things in an LVs experience, the seemingly simple act of giving or receiving a hug has taken on greater meaning and value in my first year of service.  What I could not have guessed is which of the three core values of the Lasallian Volunteers would bring about this change – faith.

As LVs, our journey in faith manifests itself in a number of ways: faith in oneself, faith in the students and clients one serves, faith in one’s community members and LV staff, and of course, faith in God. This last one was the most frustrating in my first few months of service. I felt like I could not connect with or find God’s presence in my prayer time. Exasperated, I asked one the LV staff members on my site visit: how could I feel this way in one of the most spiritually supportive environments I have ever lived in?

Our conversation changed everything. He explained a tradition (that I had been mindlessly participating in daily) which, in its essence, defines Lasallian spirituality: “Let us remember, we are in the holy presence of God.” Recited as an opening to every group prayer among Lasallians, this short phrase carries in it so much. Not only do we place ourselves in God’s presence in prayer, he explained, but we also find God’s presence in everything we experience – including each other. Mind = blown.

While I desired to grow in my relationship with God, I had trouble communicating with someone that I couldn’t feel was physically there. By adopting the Lasallian tradition, though, I have started to see God’s presence in every person I interact with. I have come to appreciate a hug, shared with another person, as a very real sign of God’s love.

Through a hug, we provide comfort, encouragement, love, and support. We share times of joy, excitement, grief, struggle, and growth. No matter what the circumstances, though, in every hug we give someone a glimpse of the love that our God has for us. We give each other God.

I think the following stanza, taken from a beautiful poem shared with me by my professional mentor here in Racine, explains this best. Written from the perspective of someone who has passed away, I think its sentiments could also reflect God’s:

And when you need me,

Put your arms around anyone

And give to them what you need to give to me.

There are so many who need so much….

God gives us each other so that when we can’t feel His physical embrace, all we must do is turn to the person next to us. “Let us remember, we are in the holy presence of God.” In remembering National Hug Day, I pray that you have the courage to see God in your neighbor, and allow them to see God in you. Happy hugging!

Katie Delaney, 12-13, John XXIII Educational Center, Racine, WI

By |January 22nd, 2013|Categories: blog|Comments Off on Katie Delaney: National Hug Day

Called to Lead

Called to Lead is the most recent article written by Brother Ed Phelan, FSC.

This article highlights three LVs, now Administrators: Ted Kanelopoulos (93-94), Chris Giangregorio (01-03) and Daniel Salvaggio (06-08).

By |January 14th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on Called to Lead

Apply to be an LV in 2013

Applications for the 2013-2014 service year are now available by request!

Please email Zac Ufnar at zufnar@cbconf.org to request one.

Our priority deadline is February 15th

After the 15th we will accept applications on a rolling basis. Thank you!

By |January 9th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Maria Serakos: Hitting the Trails

Maria Serakos, 12-13 La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

Just ask anyone who knows me well—it is no secret that I like to run. Five days a week I hit the trails, my legs carrying me across the earth and my mind losing itself in thought. This is my personal time, a time when I am able to ponder, process, and reflect on the things of importance in my life. It is a time for me to free myself of all worries and stresses and focus on my blessings.

Running has played a large role in my time so far as an LV. Despite my busy days at La Salle High School in Yakima, Washington, I make a conscious effort to incorporate running into my daily routine. Yes, this has meant many early mornings, but somehow I don’t mind waking up before the crack of dawn to log a few miles. There is something about the stillness of the morning that captivates me, instilling me with the energy to begin my day. And in addition to being my “me time,” my early morning runs are when I get some of my best lesson planning done, a definite plus for a sophomore religion teacher!

When I first heard about LVs Run, I knew this was something for me. Running a marathon has always been a personal goal, and being able to team up with the other LVs in support of a great cause was another incentive to run the big race itself. During my training not only was I personally preparing for running 26.2 miles, but I was also doing so in conjunction with the other LVs. Although we were separated by many miles, each of us was individually training for something that we would do together. While running in preparation for Tulsa, I often thought of my fellow LVs, knowing that somewhere at least one of them was likely running too.

My time on the trails has also been filled thinking about my time at La Salle. During the week it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of the school days, so my weekend long runs are a much-welcomed opportunity to step back and view things objectively. It is during these times that I am able to see the wondrous ways my students are impacting my life. While teaching I am so focused on doing what is best for my students that it is easy to overlook the blessing they are in my life.

My four months of training finally brought me to Tulsa. Despite the confidence I had at the starting line, I did not anticipate an injury that would surface halfway through the race. I was forced to walk the majority of my last ten miles, and at one point I briefly considered dropping out of the race entirely. Instantly after this thought crossed my mind, however, another one entered my head: my students. There was no possible way I was going to quit, I told myself, because my students would ask me how the race went when I returned to Yakima. And I was not going to tell them that I did not finish!

The immediacy of this thought made me realize that in addition to running this race in pursuit of a personal goal and supporting the LVs, I was doing this for my students, the boys and girls who truly have changed my life. It was their faces that I saw as I walked those last few miles; it is their voices, smiles, and energy that I continue to think about as I slowly start to hit the trails again.

Maria Serakos, 12-13, La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

By |January 7th, 2013|Categories: blog|Comments Off on Maria Serakos: Hitting the Trails

January 2013: Chay Tanchanco

Service Site: De La Salle Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, TN

University: University of California, Berkeley

What do you do? As a volunteer, I put on more hats than I care to count, but my main duties consist of: taking care of the library for the 3rd-8th grades, teaching computer classes to 3rd and 4th grades, music classes to all grades, after school care, and technology support for anyone who needs it. This past year (and soon to be two years) has convinced me every day of my life that I could not be happier anywhere else in the world right now.

If you could project ahead a few years and look back to now, how do you think your experiences with those you serve and with the Brothers will have changed you?
I think about this a lot, especially when I realize how soon my life will change again. Every day, I have the chance to spend my whole day with people who have experienced so much of life on two sides of a coin.

On the one hand, I have my kids and the faculty and staff with whom I work. Some of them have had extraordinarily difficult lives, and many of my students are too young to even understand the gravity of the hardship that has come upon them. Yet, I see them persevere, going to school every day and managing to gain an education, to love their friends and their teachers, to have a smile on their faces, and then go home to their difficult lives and do it all over again the next day.

On the other hand, I have the Brothers, many of whom have lived in many different countries and have had a variety of leadership positions in education. The wisdom and power, as well as the humor, joy and selflessness of a group of men whose lives have been dedicated to service… it’s just the most energizing presence.

I have both of these groups in my life, constantly, every single day. I am so humbled, so blessed, and I can’t help but continue to grow and work as hard as I can to offer my best self to people in whom I believe. These people are creating the core of my belief system, and I am truly proud to call myself a Lasallian because of the work I get to do with and for this community of mine.

Chay with her 5th grade music class on a trip to Christian Brothers University

Give an example of a time when you knew you were making a difference. 
One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve become a teacher is this: in order to be effective and respected as a human being (and this is especially apparent as a teacher), one must stick to their word. No matter what it is, if you are inconsistent, children will find that hole in your character and test it to no end. So as I am learning how to use discipline effectively, I have had moments where I realize that my word and the action that I pair with it is not merely a group of words and movements I string together – but in a classroom, the words create a structure – structure that my kids need in order to stay safe.

This year, I auditioned a handful of kids to sing solos at the Christmas Program. While they were nervous to audition in front of me, they were fearful to sing in front of their classmates. One day, I had the 5th grade girls who had gained solos perform for their class as they all practiced the accompaniment parts. One of them hit a sour note, and many of the kids burst into laughter. I immediately silenced them and ended class sternly, telling them how disappointed I was in them and how they needed to think twice about laughing at someone when they might not have been brave enough to do what the girls had done. One of the soloists had burst into tears at the moment they burst into laughter, and as soon as I dismissed the class in silence, she came up to me and hugged me tightly.

For me, it’s about more than music – which is strange to say, since music is such a huge metaphor and blood for the body of life I live. To teach them about music is one thing, but in the situation of a soloist and the audience, I learned that my job was more than just theory and exposure to singing. In being a soloist, you learn to stand up and use your voice, no matter its condition. And in being an audience, you learn how to respect and to listen to others – even when you don’t agree with or like what they say.

To be a part of those moments… is simply the most inspiring part of my life.

Share a story about how you saw the face of God in your students. 
I find myself getting more focused on how I can be God’s face to my kids, but sometimes, God reminds me clearly that I am experiencing the face of God in my kids. When I’m having a hard day, there are a couple of kids who see it and think outside of themselves. The best moments are seeing the kids showing the face of God to each other.

There is one kid in particular who is dealing with ADHD and has had a constant struggle with concentrating in school and with behavior issues. He also has a huge, shining compassionate heart. I have seen the same boy—who has had yelling matches with teachers—take the time to greet visitors to our school and bring other students to say hi to them. I’ve seen him give credit to other students’ work and ideas, and own up so honorably to his mistakes, that it is unmistakably God’s face shining through his. Once, I praised him highly and told him what an incredible job at welcoming visitors to our school. Instead of taking credit for his actions, he told me that he was only following the courage of another student and told me that she deserved that praise instead. His humility and the effort he puts in to doing his best in school really gives me hope that the kids I work with are growing in to compassionate, selfless people, despite all of the odds stacked against them.

Chay with her community members

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
When I came out of college, I was looking for a place that would bring me closer to the world of service while giving me a support system based in faith and in passion for changing the world. I know everyone has to choose the path that best suits them, but Lasallian Volunteers could really be the best path for more and more people. For all the things that I could be doing, there is no other place I’d rather be and no other organization I’d rather be a part of. I am incredibly blessed to have met the people that I know now, from the brothers to the students to the people I work with, to the volunteers with whom I am proud to share my experiences. Making connections and being inspired by those who have given their lives for service are truly an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

By |January 2nd, 2013|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on January 2013: Chay Tanchanco