Our local LSIers served in 5 different locations: St. Mary’s Preschool, St. Mary’s Senior Center, De Marillac Academy, St. Martin de Porres Catholic School, and De La Salle Academy
“After finishing my first day coming in with all of these doubts and expectations, I found myself at a loss of words for how great my first day really was and from that point on I realized that this was the place for me, that I had made the right decision to come here and that my LSI experience will be one I will always remember”
Volunteering here has been a wonderful experience so far. I think that the most important thing I have gained from this service experience so far is deepening a universal love for others, the kind that Mother Theresa talked about, and always looking for the good and God in everyone.
After jumping right into the swing of things, I have found myself being able to assist or serve everyone in my community. Depending on the day of the week, so makes the daily task, although some jobs are constant. After the morning assembly, I help with left over errands that need to be taken care of. At 9:30PM sharp, I am at the front desk as the usual attendant is co-teaching the fifth graders math. After, I pass out snacks to the eager fifth graders, I always get a worried when they ask, “Are they any chocolate chips in the trail mix?” And I say, “No.” The face of each child saddens as if it is the loss of a great battle. Then is the fun time, lunch.
I look at people differently. I see them for who they are. I see them as stories, mistakes, joyful noises and people. People who just want to be held and told that everything is going to be OK. Handshakes no longer feel appropriate, because you wouldn’t shake hands with your family.
I learned how to take advice from a tree. Yes, a tree. I learned how to stand tall and proud, how to sink my roots deeply into the Earth and reflect the light of my nature. I learned how to think long term, how to go out on a limb, and remember my place among all living beings. I learned how to embrace with joy the changing seasons, since each yields its own abundance. By seasons, I mean feelings. I learned to seek nourishment from the good things in life, the simple pleasures. To remember my roots.
There is something about children and their ability to so clearly state what they are feeling. I thought what he said was so beautiful and touching, but I was not at all surprised this came from him. He comes back to my table during break and just smiles at me, then I smile back, and he walks back to his desk. He is so shy but so incredibly kind, a smile is all the communication he needs to make someone else feel kindness. Louis has a bad home. I am not sure what the circumstances are but I have heard his teacher talk about it and ask him how home is. I think that is why he is so shy. But despite what he is faced with as a seven year old, he is able to spread such joy just by being present.
I was lucky to be witness to a love that only some possess, but many need: a love so unconditional that it requires no family relation. The teachers that run the school, women that I eventually befriended – Quinetta, Lacy, Sonia and Nell – do not have an easy job. But the grace in which they handle their occupation is something admirable. Many things that were needed at the preschool, that some kids needed, even – much of it is purchased out of pocket, by one of them. Coats for kids. Socks. Necessities that are hard to come by at times. And I understand that it’s not only there that teachers spend their own money, but across the country teachers are doing the same thing for the students that they deeply care about. It’s one of the reasons, at the end of the month, I found even more reason (to an already infinite list) to admire and value our teachers. They do so much at often zero recognition.
This month I learned about the obligation of service, and that, perhaps, was the biggest lesson that I learned.