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January Ministry of the Month: John Paul II Academy Racine, Wisconsin

In this month’s “Ministry of the Month,” the Midwest District is featured. The ministry is John Paul II Academy in Racine, Wisconsin, and the Lasallian Volunteer is Madison Caropino, 17-19. Madison is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga.

WHAT IS JOHN PAUL II ACADEMY?

John Paul II Academy (JPIIA) is a Catholic school providing a faith-based education that embraces the teachings of the Gospel in order to develop the whole child. The school exists in partnership with the parents, parishes and the community to meet the needs of each individual student.

HOW DID MADISON BECOME A LASALLIAN VOLUNTEER?

Madison attended Saint Mary’s College of California and found herself called to a year of service. Lasallian Volunteers felt like a very natural fit. She says, “I was given many service opportunities, serving others is what I have always been happiest doing, and I knew that I wanted to continue service after I graduated. When I learned about Lasallian Volunteers, I knew that it would be the perfect fit for me. What attracted me most to the program was the mission of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, empowering our world’s youth through a quality education.”

WHAT IS THE SERVICE THAT MADISON PROVIDES?

Madison works to support the principal, helps the administrative assistants with administrative tasks, aid in classrooms, oversee all technology use at the school, and monitor recess and lunch. She says, “The kids I serve are what I look forward to when I wake up every day. The service aspect of the program has greatly impacted my life, and that is because of the kids I serve.”

HOW DOES MADISON TOUCH MINDS AND HEARTS AT JPIIA?

Madison with Principal Schumacher

Many of the students at JPIIA come from lower income families that receive free or reduced lunch, they need a lot of help with homework, and their parents work long hours to afford the tuition to send them to the school. Madison feels blessed to get to be a part of their lives and see them every day. She says, “What my students need is unconditional love. At the end of the day, I do not know what every one of my students’ lives are like outside of school. But I do know that I get seven hours a day with them, and during those seven hours, I try to be my best self and show up with a smile on my face every single day.”

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED MADISON AS A LASALLIAN VOLUNTEER?

Like many of our Lasallian Volunteers who have attended our colleges and universities, Madison had known the De La Salle Christian Brothers during her time at Saint Mary’s. She shares this about living in community, “Living with Christian Brothers is a unique experience. It’s awesome to get to know them and about their lives, and why they are on the path they are on. It is incredibleto have Brothers with so much experience and knowledge at your dinner table to share with you what their experiences were in education. I have learned so much from the Brothers with whom I have lived throughout the past two years. Something that I have learned from living with Brothers is how to be a better listener. I think that the Brothers with whom I have lived with are great listeners, and it made me want to improve my listening, ask more questions, and just absorb the advice or stories that they are telling.”

WHAT DOES MADISON HAVE TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

Madison says, “My best advice to a college senior discerning a volunteer year would just be to be open minded and ready to learn. The experience will not always be easy, but it is worth it. The personal growth and amount of love that I have experienced the past two years is indescribable. My students truly have made me a better person.

By |January 11th, 2019|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|0 Comments

Answering the Unanswerable Questions

As a first-year teacher one thing that can stop me dead in my tracks is when a student asks me a question that I am unable to answer. The unanswerable questions themselves are not what stop me; rather, it is the inability to help one of my students that makes me pause. My faults and the limitations of knowledge are things that I am really familiar with going back to my early days as a philosophy major. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is one that I learned at the beginning of my studies while reading of the Trial of Socrates: “I am the smartest person in this room, if only because I am the only one who knows that they do not know everything.” Fortunately, as I look at my life now my philosophical studies unexpectedly prepared me for these perplexing questions from students and—with strenuous reinforcement and implementation this past semester—taught me how to truly listen, as a sixth-eighth grade teacher, to the questions of my students.

Everyday a single student might ask hundreds of questions, from the inane, “Mr. Peters, can I go to the bathroom,” over and over … and over again, to the deep, “Why do we believe in Hell?” Furthermore, a single study hall of 50 minutes might cover the breadth of helping create variable equations, symbolism in Fahrenheit 451, and balancing the sides of a chemical reaction. Previous schooling prepared me to solve and answer some of these questions on a basic level, but in most cases I have not practiced any real technical stuff in several years. But, what do I actually do when I get questions I forgot or never thought to learn?

Like a good student, we always begin by reading the instructions. Next, I do what I learned as a philosophy major, I ask simple questions until the student and I have a firm foundation—a foundation where both the student and I know the basic building blocks of the subject. Finally, we return the original question. The key to start solving a problem is knowing which questions to ask and, ultimately, listening to how someone answers. Students and I have answered many homework questions, but they have also taught me a great deal more.

My students have taught me that I need to ask a lot more questions in general. They have also taught me that I need to be more precise with my directions, like the times that I had them all get up and start walking somewhere without the “go” word. And, my students have taught me that I need to break things down to more simple questions at first, like when I asked for the definition of a word from my eighth grade English class, which I thought should be obvious and instead I got 16 eighth graders staring at me with deer-in-the-headlight eyes.

All 92 of my San Miguel students are a work in progress. I work hard to help them learn something new every day, and each day I hope that they ask me more questions on their own prerogative (if only so they can eventually teach themselves and I can just sit back and relax.) Overall, we have already grown a lot together, and my hope is that they grow—at least as much as they have helped me grow—because they have definitely shown me the way.

Ben Peters is a first-year LV serving at San Miguel School in Washington, DC. He is a 2018 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

By |January 9th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|0 Comments

Embracing the Unexpected and Trusting God’s Plan

2018 has been quite the year for me. I graduated from college, traveled the East Coast putting on mission trips for teenagers with Catholic Heart Workcamp, started a relationship with a guy who is one of my best friends, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to start my service year as an LV, went on an epic fall break camping trip in the Smoky Mountains with my community member, plus a whole bunch more. Besides graduating college, nothing on that list was part of my plan for 2018. However, I am very grateful that they were part of God’s plan for me.

Looking back at the beginning of this year, I would have never expected to be where I am today but that’s what makes life fun. The unexpected. I have so many friends who have planned their life out to a T. They know exactly what company they want to work for, the year they want to get married, how many kids they want to have, the neighborhood they want to live in, etc. Planning out my life like that, in all honesty, scares me. You see, we can plan out our life precisely how we want it to be, but ultimately our life is in God’s hands. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In March of my senior year I got my site placement for Lasallian Volunteers. I was hoping to go somewhere exciting like California or New York. I put in my application that I wanted to go literally anywhere but the Midwest. God had a different plan though. I was placed in Memphis, Tennessee, at De La Salle Elementary at Blessed Sacrament.
Originally when I got my site placement, I was told that I would be doing things like teaching religion, co-teaching reading classes, teaching specials classes, and things like that. However, when I arrived at my site, the principal offered me something different. He told me that they were still in need of a middle school science teacher. My background is in elementary education and middle school social studies. Teaching science was never really part of my plan. I trusted God’s plan and jumped right into my next adventure.

This job is a tall order. I am constantly reteaching myself science concepts and planning lessons that are engaging and differentiated to fit all my students’ needs. There are always assignments that need to be graded. Classroom management of middle schoolers has tested me more times than I can count. Sometimes I feel like I am failing, but my students always seem to give me reassurance. This reassurance comes in many different forms and exactly when I need it most. Whether it be in physical form such as a letter or Mexican sweet bread, or verbal affirmation like having one of my most difficult students thank me for making him guided notes, they always remind me that I am following God’s plan for my life. I know that my struggles are nothing compared to what some of my students are going through. At our school there are refugee families, single parent households and some where parents are not even in the picture. There are families who struggle to pay tuition and put food on the table. I know that school is a safe place for many of them.I have built meaningful relationships with my students, and they give me the motivation to keep following God’s call to serve.

Teaching middle schoolers is HARD. Community life can be challenging. Living over 700 miles away from home is difficult. Being in a long-distance relationship is not the most fun. But all of these challenges are part of God’s plan for me. I know that I would not be the person I am today without these things that were not necessarily all part of my own plan.

When I go home for the holidays my family and friends are going to be asking me what my plans are for next year. In all honesty, I really have no idea. I could potentially stay in Memphis, switch service sites, or move back to Minnesota. If I wanted to, I could even move to a different country. All I do know is that I will strive to follow God’s plan for my life no matter where it leads.

So, here’s to 2018 and all the unexpected things God has in store for me in 2019!

 

Sheyenne Bauer is a first-year Lasallian Volunteer serving at De La Salle Elementary at Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, Tennessee. She is a 2018 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

 

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Embracing the Unexpected and Trusting God’s Plan

December Ministry of the Month: Bethlehem University

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the Lasallian Region of North America is featured. The ministry is Bethlehem University in the Holy Land and the Lasallian Volunteers are first-year LVs George Boateng and Jarred McKinney. George is a 2018 Graduate of Boston College with a bachelor’s in History and Sociology and Jarred is 2018 a graduate of Emory University with a master’s in Global Religions.

WHAT IS BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY?

Bethlehem University is a Catholic co-educational institution in the Lasallian tradition whose mission is to provide quality higher education to the people of Palestine and to serve them in its role as a center for the advancement, sharing and use of knowledge. The university emphasizes excellence in academic programs and the development of students as committed people prepared to assume leading positions in society. The university fosters shared values, moral principles, and dedication to serving the common good. Founded in 1973, current enrollment is 3,295 students with 77 percent female and 23 percent. Of those students, 76 percent are Muslim while 24 percent are Christian. Students come from the areas surrounding Bethlehem with 46 percent from Bethlehem, 44 percent from Jerusalem, 8 percent coming from Hebron, and 2 percent coming from other places in the region.

WHAT SERVICE ARE GEORGE AND JARRED PROVIDING AT BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY?

George coordinates the English language tutoring program and works as a TA for an English class. Jarred spends most of his time tutoring in English, is also a TA for an English class, and writes and edits for the Bethlehem University newsletter.

WHY DID JARRED AND GEORGE DECIDE TO JOIN LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

For Jarred, he felt called to the mission of both the LV program and of Bethlehem University. He wanted to work for educational opportunities for people who might not otherwise get them. He says, “I became a Lasallian Volunteer because I believe that everyone loves learning, the first step is just learning how to learn. So, there is no venture more worthwhile than to accompany students in the journey of falling in love with learning.” For George, a trusted mentor introduced him to the program. He felt it was the best way for him to continue with his passion for social justice. He says, “I have always engaged in the civil activism. I believe in using my privilege to help people not blessed as I am to share in my freedom and rights.”

HOW DO GEORGE AND JARRED TOUCH THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF THOSE ENTRUSTED TO THEIR CARE?

Many Bethlehem students have to travel a great distance to get to the university. The political climate in Palestine is very unstable and can be dangerous. George and Jarred, along with the Brothers and Lasallians at Bethlehem University, offer safety, stability and quality education to the students entrusted to their care. George says, “Bethlehem University encounters the same challenges every person and institution confront in the West Bank due to socio-political reasons. However, amidst these struggles the institution endeavors to provide an education that is academically, socially and psychologically uplifting because of the belief that a well-rounded education is the best vehicle for positive changes. The most important thing my students need from me is my attention and dedication.” Jarred speaks of his experience when he says, “I think Bethlehem University attempts to combat this by instilling the idea that although Israel may occupy their physical bodies and their material resources, they cannot occupy your mind if you do not allow them to do so. That is the power of education, it is a liberating, life-giving force, and I think Bethlehem University aims to embody that. My students most need from me is to see that learning can be play, it can be fun. This removes the pressure and emphasis on grades and allows the learning experience to be enjoyable.”

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED GEORGE AND JARRED?

Neither Jarred nor George had experience with the Lasallian charism or De La Salle Christian Brothers prior to their service experience. However, both volunteers have very positive things to say about their community experience at Bethlehem University. Jarred says, “Living with the Brothers has placed an emphasis on prayer and paying attention to the happenings of my life. Thus, praying multiple times a day has led me to be attentive to the presence of the Divine in the world. If, then, I am attending to God, my self-understanding rests in God. But, there is a lot of grey-area in this. Living with the Brothers has helped me to see that this grey-area is, in fact, holy ground.” George shared, “My time with the Brothers has taught me that they are just like everybody else, but they live a life dedicated to education. My experience has instilled an appreciation to living simply.”

WHAT DO GEORGE AND JARRED WANT TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

George says, “The volunteer year should not be about you, but about the people you are serving and the mission of the place you are serving under.” Jarred says of serving for a year after college, “I think sometimes that we make things too formulaic. A leads to B, B then to C, and so on. Perhaps it is better to think about life as a pilgrimage.”

 

 

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on December Ministry of the Month: Bethlehem University

Lasallian Volunteers Apparel for Sale!

Lasallian Volunteers has partnered with Tommy Hilfiger to provide LV apparel! Support the LV program by purchasing an assortment of items for yourself, current LVs, Alums and children! Lasallian Volunteers will receive a portion of proceeds from sales. As part of this ongoing partnership, items include: sweatshirts, blazers, sweaters, polos and more! All items purchased will be shipped directly to you. Enter CHRI05 as the school code.

Shop now >  

Click here for ordering instructions >

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Lasallian Volunteers Apparel for Sale!