Why a Year of Service?

Whenever I tell someone that I am doing a year of service, I am met with varied responses. Most tell me how wonderful they think it is. Some ask what it means. Others astonishingly ask why I would do such a thing. So why did I embark on this yearlong journey serving the dear neighbor?

It started with being a senior in college, unsure of what I wanted to do after graduation. I wasn’t ready to begin a career or go to grad school. So I began looking into volunteer programs.

My four years of college allowed me to focus on myself. I studied only the subjects that interested me. I joined only the clubs I wanted to join. I studied abroad to quench my own desire to travel. I chose an internship that interested me. Yet at the end of it, I still had no idea who I was or where I wanted to go. I had spent the past four years pursuing the things I thought were meant for me and I was no closer to knowing what I wanted to do than when I had started. If four years focused on myself didn’t work, why not take one year to focus on someone else? Maybe that would show me more about myself than what felt like four selfish years at college ever would.

And it has. I’ve already learned more than I did throughout me entire college experience and I’m not even halfway through my service.

I settled on the St. Joseph Worker program because the pillars required me to spend my year committed not only to serving others but also to working on myself as a professional, a leader and on my spiritual life. I chose to come to LA because I was accepted to work at Immaculate Conception School and it would allow me to spend my year working with students, a ministry I have always felt passionate about. It was decided and I was relieved to have a plan before graduation.

As a volunteer, I am able to play many different roles at Immaculate Conception. My main job is being the teacher’s aide in the middle school English and Language Arts classroom, but I also spend time tutoring, teaching P.E. classes, helping with the school choir and substituting. Every day, every experience, every job I’m asked to do pushes me to become a better person, leader and professional. I am constantly challenged to learn and grow by the students that I serve every day and I know that focusing on them is making me learn more about myself than I could have ever expected.

Unlike the at the end of my collegiate career, I am expecting that at the end of my year of service, I find myself a more complete and confident leader and professional, finally ready to take on anything the world throws my way.

Until the next time,

Abby

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