Monthly Archives: May 2018

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LVs Navigate and Reflect on the Tides of their Service Year

The 2017-2018 Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) gathered as a cohort for the final time at the annual Debriefing Retreat from May 25-28, 2018, at La Salle Manor in Plano, Illinois. Their time together was an opportunity to reflect, rest and reconnect with one another.

The retreat was facilitated by LV Alums Scott and Alina Baietti, LV 08-10, for the third year in a row. “Debriefing is always a pleasure to facilitate,” shared the Baiettis. “We love being at La Salle Manor where we have a lot of great memories from Debriefing when we were LVs. The facility and grounds help us enter our own state of peace allowing reflection. The group this year was very introspective and collaborative, which made us feel the calm even more. We are so thankful for the LV staff, LV Alums and Christian Brothers who help us make it an amazing weekend for the LV Cohort.”

The theme for the weekend was “LVs at Sea.” The Baiettis invited the LVs to think about their journey and if the ship they started their service year on was the same they ended it on, if the waters (experience) ebbed and flowed, and who or what impacted their year.

LV Alums Samantha Almanza, LV 09-11, Chris Hueg, LV 11-13, Shanae Farrell, LV 12-14, John Tudisco, LV 15-16, and Brothers Ed Phelan, Michael Reis, Stephen Markham and Michael Kadow accompanied the 35 LVs. Alums present helped facilitate sessions on what comes next, highlighting going to graduate school, returning for a second or third year, going to work, and being unsure of what the future holds.

For first-year LV Ashley Weinberger, who is serving at La Salle Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she shared, “Debriefing was an opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of my service year and helped me to decide what I want to accomplish for next year.”

When reflecting on her experience and the Debriefing Retreat, second-year LV Rachel Waletzko, serving at De La Salle Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee, shared, “For me, as an exiting second-year volunteer, the Debriefing Retreat was a final opportunity to feel the gravity of and gratitude for each person’s presence in the cohort, as well the LV staff, LV alums and Christian Brothers who have closely accompanied me the past two years. There was time to share cherished memories as well as trials and lessons learned that will remain with me as I step out of the carefully crafted web of Lasallian Volunteer support and start a job as a third grade teacher at a Catholic school. Though the weekend was overcast with the reality that I will, in a sense, be leaving Lasallian ministry at the end of my service year, the weekend refueled the internal Lasallian fire that began at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota six years ago – the desire to bring the Founder’s mission with me wherever I may be called.”

On Sunday evening, the program recognized the 18 LVs who will be exiting the program to pursue graduate school and work. One of the exiting LVs has been hired on at their ministry for the next school year. Three of the exiting LVs will pursue master’s degrees as LV Scholars at Lasallian colleges/universities. The program also witnessed the renewal of vows from the Brothers present as they celebrated Trinity Sunday.

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By |May 31st, 2018|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on LVs Navigate and Reflect on the Tides of their Service Year

LV Alum to Join Midwest District Staff

Abby Michels, LV 15-17, will join the staff of the Midwest District as the Young Lasallian coordinator on August 1, 2018. After graduating from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, in 2015, Michels served as an LV at De La Salle Academy in Concord, California, for two years. She then joined the staff at Catalyst Circle Rock School in Chicago for one year. Michels has been involved with Young Lasallians in the Midwest District since her return to the Chicago area. She previously assisted the District of San Francisco New Orleans with their summer Lasallian Student Leaders program held at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California.

By |May 31st, 2018|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on LV Alum to Join Midwest District Staff

JT Taylor: What I Learned in the School of Rock

JT Taylor, LV 17-18, Bishop Loughlin, Brooklyn, NY

On a recent plane flight, I re-watched the classic Jack Black film School of Rock. It’s always been one of my favorite movies, and I even wrote a college application essay about Black’s character, Dewey Finn. Back when I wrote that paper, I had no intention of ever working in education. I apparently didn’t have great foresight. In case you haven’t seen the movie by now, the basic plot of School of Rock is that Jack Black steals the identity of his substitute teacher roommate to earn rent money, and winds up sharing his passion for music with the 3rd grade students in his classroom. Aside from the identity theft, I noticed that my experience at Bishop Loughlin this year has shared some odd similarities with the film.

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t really know where or how to “start” in my role as a tutor. I wanted to meet and connect with the students, but not having any students that were required to come see me made that more difficult. After a couple of days, I jumped into a conversation between one student and the librarian, Mr. Frank, who were talking about TV reboots. I brought up the Netflix Voltron series, and the student’s eyes went wide as she asked me “You watch Voltron?” From that point forward, I was in. My connection with that student led to conversations with other students about topics ranging from fast food to sports. In a similar way to School of Rock, I was first able to connect with my students by sharing my passions with them.

From there, it was a short trip to trusting relationships. Because my students found that we shared interests, they could see me as not just some random educator, but as a person who is really there to help them and be present with them. Once that was established, my students had no reservations about asking me to help them study, write papers, apply to colleges, or just talk about life. Not only do my students now trust me, but I trust them too. I feel comfortable giving them extra responsibility, delegating certain things to them, and asking them to take leadership. For example, I have asked some of my “regulars” to help me tutor when multiple students need help in different subjects. I may not be forming a rock band with them, but those trusting relationships have been transformative for me.

I find that the most effective education happens when that trusting dynamic is present. When I have a more personal relationship with a student, I can tailor my tutoring to that student and their interests, making our work more meaningful for both of us. This is how I try to live out my Lasallian commitment to “touch the hearts” of the people I serve, and I don’t think I can accomplish that without allowing my heart to be touched as well. A scene near the end of School of Rock almost perfectly echoes this sentiment, showing how profound education can be when students and educators are open to the humanity in each other.

When I wrote my college application essay, I only wanted to emulate School of Rock musically. However, I am now living out the film through the relationships I have built with my students. For me, the passion and trust that have led to my most effective moments of education are what the Lasallian ideal of a “human education” is all about.

JT Taylor is first-year LV serving at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn, NY and a 2017 graduate of St. Mary’s College of California.

By |May 30th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on JT Taylor: What I Learned in the School of Rock

Jin Su Seo: Was it Worth it?

Jin Su Seo, LV 17-18, The San Miguel School of Providence, Providence, RI

During my time as an LV, people frequently have asked me a fair amount of questions. What does your service look like? How did you get involved with the Lasallian Volunteers? Do you like living with a Christian Brother? No, seriously, do you like living with a Christian Brother? At this point of the year, I have a routine response to all these questions. However, there was a simple question that made me really reflect on my journey this year.

I decided to go back home one last time before the school year came to a conclusion. One of my family traditions is to sit around the fire pit in our backyard and have a conversation. My mother asked me a question. Was it worth it? Was it worth it to give up an entire year to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Was it worth all the sacrifices?

I sat there in silence and wondered. Was it worth it? Those days where no matter how many times I asked the students to stay quiet, they responded by talking louder. When I thought there couldn’t possibly be more to do, more work was waiting around the corner. How about those relatives who told me that I can’t make a difference and that I’m wasting my time. Or to watch my best friends progress in their careers and I’m still questioning what I want to do. What about those sleepless nights where I ask God if the future is going to look better. How about living in a community, yet at times, I still felt alone. Was it worth it?

Throughout the year, people asked if I enjoy my time in Rhode Island and the service that I do. I wouldn’t even think about it and say yes. Do I actually believe that or was I just answering to make the conversation short? Did I enjoy this year of service or did I just convince myself that I did? Maybe I was so desperate that all I could do was become a volunteer and I really didn’t have the heart for it. For most of the year, I didn’t know if I actually believed in my answer. I just wasn’t sure.

But although I have every reason to think this year was a mistake, I start to think about those moments that put a smile on my face. When the students come up with a cool nickname for me and I have to tell them they can’t call me that. But deep down inside, I couldn’t be happier. Or the one student who can’t stop dancing and I tell him to cut it out, but turn so he doesn’t see me smirking. When I stop and think, I loved taking the 5th grade class to Vermont on their weeklong farm trip. I never thought I would see 16 boys so excited waking up at six in the morning to clean a barn. How about those days where I feel like I can’t do anything right, but the school staff lifts me up and tells me that I’m doing great. All the great memories like running my first 5K in Tucson, developing friendships with other Lasallian Volunteers, and all the Christian Brothers who genuinely care about my well-being.

As I look back, I would never trade these memories. I would never trade my time with the students and staff at San Miguel Middle School. I would never trade meeting the Brothers and the other Lasallian Volunteers that are now my friends. I would never trade all the growth that I achieved during this year. I would never trade my experience as a Lasallian Volunteer.

So yes. It was worth it.

Jin Su Seo is first-year LV serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Providence, RI and a 2016 graduate of St. Mary’s College of California.

By |May 16th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Jin Su Seo: Was it Worth it?

May Ministry of the Month: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the District of Eastern North America is featured. The ministry is Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, New York, and the Lasallian Volunteers are first years, John Taylor (JT) and Isabella Virgen, both 2017 graduates of Saint Mary’s College of California (SMC) in Moraga.

WHAT IS BISHOP LOUGHLIN MEMORIAL HIGH SCHOOL?

Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School is a Catholic, college preparatory high school that draws its Christian perspective from the faith tradition of the Roman Catholic Church and the Lasallian tradition of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Loughlin fosters academic success, builds character, develops future leaders and nurtures a vibrant personal relationship with God. Loughlin stimulates and supports a student’s quest for intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and civic development. Students are challenged to achieve their full potential to strive for excellence and to further their education at colleges and universities. Loughlin students, faculty and staff are committed to an inclusive community that respects diversity in its many forms and values excellence in scholarship.

WHAT SERVICE ARE JT AND ISABELLA PROVIDINGAT BISHOP LOUGHLIN?

JT is an academic tutor in the school’s library. He is available throughout the day to students who need help with homework, projects, college applications, SAT/ACT prep, and anything else they might need. In addition, JT helps with the after-school homework center, a study hall environment where students can get homework and studying help from faculty members in each subject. Isabella serves incampus ministry and student life. She works closely with the campus minister to find service opportunities for the students, assist with liturgies and prayer services, and co-lead and facilitate retreats.

HOW WERE JT AND ISABELLA INTRODUCED TO THE LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

Both JT and Isabella were involved at Saint Mary’s in service and community activities through the Mission and Ministry Office. With a large LV Alumni presence on the campus, they became drawn to the program. JT says, “I had heard about Lasallian Volunteers when I started working in the Mission and Ministry Center at SMC, and it stuck in my mind as a potential post-grad option. When it came time to decide what I was doing after getting my degree, I job-shopped a little and decided that the LV program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I should go for.” Isabella says of her decision to join, “I decided to become a Lasallian Volunteer because their core values of faith, service and community are values that I cherish and apply to shape my life. My family has taught me that my faith is something I can rely on in times of hardship as well as to remain humble and always be thankful for the opportunities I have received. It allows me to continue to remain consistent with my faith, dedicated to service, and become part of a community who cares about helping others.”

HOW DO ISABELLA AND JT TOUCH THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF THOSE ENTRUSTED TO THEIR CARE?

JT’s main service is helping students understand tough material from class. He works hard to help them feel proud of what they are learning. He says, “I think the most important thing I can give them is confidence. I’ve had some students come to me needing essentially a second lesson on what they’d learned that day, others needing help finding the information to get them on track, and many that just want me to look over their work. In all of these cases, my end goal is to have my students be confident in their own ability to perform and problem solve.” Isabella’s experience of touching minds and hearts of those entrusted to her, “In Campus Ministry and Lasallian Youth we give students access to outside service opportunities so they can get involved in not just their school community but their local community outside of school as well.”

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED ISABELLA AND JT?

Isabella and JT interacted with the Brothers during their time at SMC. However, they did not truly get to know community life with the Brothers until they came to Bedford Park. JT says, “The passion for vocation that is evident in every Brother I’ve met has been an inspiration to me. They all have different ways of expressing the zeal that’s so fundamental to the Lasallian mission, and that has inspired me to give my pursuits the same level of commitment.” Isabella says, “My involvement with the Brothers has opened up a pathway to learn more about where I live and of the people who live in the community around me. Coming from California and having never been to New York before, living in community with the Brothers has allowed me to feel more comfortable being far from home as well as strengthened my faith.”

WHAT DOES THE 2017-2018 COHORT WANT TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT THE LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS PROGRAM?

Isabella shares, “I would tell a college senior who is discerning a volunteer year that it is an experience through which they will see themselves grow and they will become comfortable with being uncomfortable and being outside of their comfort zone.  They will live in a community and meet people who are generous and willing to put the needs of their community and others before their own. This is an experience through which they will make friends and they will be dedicated to serving the people in the community around them.” JT says, “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only to get to know new people and a new place, but also to get to know yourself so much more than you would otherwise. A volunteer year gives you the unique perspective of ‘I work for this group of people’ (in my case, students) rather than ‘I work for this business/organization.’ That may not seem like a big difference, but it’s a certain viewpoint that is hard to gain elsewhere and can change your worldview.”

By |May 9th, 2018|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on May Ministry of the Month: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School