A Week in the Life: Saying Goodbye
June 20, 2019
Written by Jacque Larson
After ten months of service at Gonzaga Prep it is time for this years group of Alumni Service Corps volunteers to sign off. We have been so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community of friends and family.
Becca and Dylan have both accepted positions to serve in the Peace Corps. Becca will begin her service in August and will be headed to the Ukraine. Dylan will depart in October and will be serving in Samoa.
Jacque and Jenny have both accepted positions in Spokane. Jacque will be the Youth Ministry Coordinator at St. Luke Lutheran Church, working with middle and high school age members of the congregation. Jenny will be teaching Math at Gonzaga Prep, continuing the great work she has been doing throughout her year of service.
This year has been full of valuable learning experiences both professional and communal. We have had the great pleasure of getting to know so many at Prep -- from students to faculty and staff -- and are excited to see how the ASC program continues to grow and develop over the years.
There are so many to say thank you to, but here, on this blog (that only about 6 people know about...) we want to say, thank you Gonzaga Prep for allowing us to server you. It has been a pleasure. #GoBullpups
A Week in the Life: What’s New?
April 29, 2019
Written by Becca Dunne
Hola! Hallo! Bonjour!
Yes, it has been four months since I last wrote a blog. No, I have not learned three languages since my brief hiatus in blog posting. I have, however, learned a TON about the Learning Resource Center, environmental justice, myself, and community living during this time span.
First off, since my last blog post in December, I have transitioned into a new role as the stand-in Learning Resource Center Director. Sounds official, huh? In this space, I have been charged with a myriad of different tasks. From overseeing a total of four “Psychology of Learning” classes, to learning about the importance of both internal communication with my coworkers and students and external communication with parents, it has been quite the learning experience (pun intended).
I have also had the privilege of assisting with the Margins experience, and more specifically with the part of the program that is focused on environmental justice. Through our pre-departure weekly meetings, a week-long Spring Break trip to San Francisco, and post-trip meetings, I have become quite educated on all things related to sustainability. I now aspire to continuously be mindful of my habits as a consumer of food, clothing, and other resources in an effort to protect and preserve our beautiful Earth. I find that there is now an ongoing battle in my mind between want versus need that has been spurred by continual conversation with faculty/staff, students, and friends regarding best sustainable practices.
Lastly, as my year of service is quickly dwindling to a close, I find that I learn something new about myself and about community living on a daily basis. For example, I am constantly reminded that, when interacting with others (essentially all the time), it is best to operate from a place of “Everyone is doing the best they can,” rather than assuming something about one person or another. I have also learned to be more patient - both with others and with myself. This has been a hard lesson, and one that consistently challenges me. I am, however, grateful for these moments of struggle, as I know that in the long run they are helping me develop into a more resilient, rooted individual.
With that, I am signing off and scurrying to the fresh cup of coffee that is currently calling my name! Until next time.
Adios! Auf Wiedersehen! Au Revoir!
A Week in the Life: An Update + Community
March 15, 2019
Written by Jacque Larson
After a brief hiatus from the ASCV blog we are back!
- It's 2019!
- It's March and there is still snow on the ground.
- There are now 4 ASCVs! (Welcome Dylan!)
- Cassie and Colton (the Bachelor) are officially together -- not to brag, but I called that from the 1st episode of the season. I also called that Cassie would leave him because she realized that she wasn't ready for marriage (that happened), and that Colton would quit the show to be with her (that essentially happened). Okay, no one cares.
- January was a busy month for us all
- February brought a much needed break -- thank you to the massive amount of snow and the five day weekend
- With March comes new activities after school, new opportunities to host different student groups, and new feelings of familiarity in our work (& hopefully spring)
Early in January Dylan Biagi joined the Alumni Service Corps, moved into Maresa with Jenny, Becca, and I, and began working at Prep in roles similar to ours. Following this new addition the four of us went on a second semester retreat. We spent time reflecting on the first semester with Tyler, we shared meals, explored the ways that others experience and practice spirituality by attending a non-denominational church service as well as yoga, and we adventured to Kellogg, Idaho for a day of sledding.
In Kellogg, ID we took the twenty-minute gondola ride to the top of Silver Mountain Resort. The snowy scenery helped build up the excitement and anticipation for sledding. Once atop the mountain the four of us grabbed inner tubes and patiently waited in line for our turn to race down the sledding hill.
The initial plan was for each of us to be in our own lane and race each other down the hill for the first round of sledding. I was already at the front of my line, so in order for this to happen I needed to let one person in front of me. Apparently I was standing too far back to be considered "in line" because a group of four little kids made their way in front of me. Now there was no way I was going to be able to race my housemates anytime soon. While all of this was going on Jenny was in the front of her line doing a dance of excitement and ready to dive down the hill. she wasn't about to wait. My options were wait or join Jenny.
Jenny and I exchanged a look. She had seen the kids waddle in front of me. She motioned for me to join her. I glanced over at Becca and Dylan waiting in the sledding lanes to my left. They were watching me and looked confused. The Sledding Supervisor yelled, “GO!”
I dove from my lane toward Jenny’s and together we flew head first on our inner tubes down the hill, sliding and swirling in a circle. We laughed and squealed with joy. With adrenaline pumping fast though our bodies and tears from laughter streaming down our faces, we sped to the end of the hill and came to an abrupt stop at the bottom. We sat there laughing until we heard someone from higher ground yelling at us to move.
Moments like these have been interspersed throughout the year. Whether the four of us are together for “designated fun,” hosting a game night for friends or a social for faculty and staff, or sitting around the kitchen island making dinner, there always seems to be genuine laughter and enjoyment within our community. This community has been one of the greatest blessings of the year.
In that moment sitting at the bottom of the hill I thought to myself, “this is what my volunteer experience is about.” My year of volunteering has been about cherishing moments of laughter, creating a home and inviting people into that home, learning to let go of structure in some ways, building structure in other ways, learning to trust myself and others, diving into new experiences, and recognizing that I am never alone (to name a few).
As the end of this year of service draws nearer I look toward what is next for me and the lessons that I will bring with me into my future. One lesson is for sure: Community is what you make it. If you are willing to put in the time to bond - to laugh together, work together, plan and host together - your community will have a solid foundation to grow on.
A Week in the Life: ASCV Undertakings
December 17, 2018
Written by Becca Dunne
As an Alumni Service Corps Volunteer, there has been no shortage of somewhat off-the-wall tasks I have found myself involved in. As a result, I decided to create a list of the myriad of random and somewhat unexpected activities I have immersed myself in during my first four months as a volunteer at Gonzaga Preparatory School.
I chaperoned a dance for the Freshmen Class and oddly enough, Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” was one of the many familiar songs that blasted over the speakers that night. Talk about a throwback!
I sold tickets at three playoff football games. Go Bullpups!
I filled out a “Dutch Bros Donation Request Form” and, after waiting nearly a month and a half to hear back from individuals who handle donation requests for the Spokane Dutch Bros franchise, secured 150 $1 Any Drink cards to give to faculty and staff on their birthdays.
I had the wonderful opportunity to deliver a trunk full of food to a family in Spokane during the delivery portion of the school’s annual Food Drive.
I wrote a grant proposal in an attempt to acquire funding for the school’s spring break immersion program entitled “Margins.”
I assisted in interviewing student applicants interested in the “Margins” program.
I stayed up until two in the morning baking chocolate chip cookies and preparing tutor-appreciation gift bags for the Academic Success Center tutors with a note that said “Thanks for helping our students become smart cookies.”
I stayed up until 3 am baking Chai-Spiced Vanilla Shortbread cookies and deep cleaning the kitchen in preparation for a faculty/staff Cookie Bake-Off Party.
Though I could not have foreseen my participation in any of the above-mentioned endeavors while applying to be an Alumni Service Corps Volunteer, I am nonetheless grateful for the experience thus far and am excited for what is yet to come!
A Week in the Life: What Does a Typical Day as an ASC Volunteer Look Like?
December 12, 2018
Written by Jenny Albrecht
7:00 am the usual morning lineup.
Oh wait that's the opening to Tangled. Anyways...
This is how a general day has been during this year of service.
7:30 am: Make the 30 second commute to school. Drink coffee. Go to ASC office (Academic Success Center, not Alumni Service Corps) and prepare for the day. This usually consists of answering emails, updating gradebooks, setting up Schoology for the day’s lessons, and so on. Normally, I substitute during this time, but I have a new long term substitute assignment, so these periods have freed up a little more.
8:30 am: Schoology is down so I can't do anything. Therefore, I head to the Christian Service office and hang out with Liz for a bit.
8:45 am: Back to work. But first, more coffee.
9:30 am: Head to the Symposium room for my Freshman Seminar classes. These are usually study hall periods with intentional programming once a week. Today is just a study hall. Recently, this third period class is when I start to reteach myself math. Today, I learned about imaginary numbers. Oh yeah, now I teach Algebra II, which is why I have begun re-teaching myself these concepts.
10:40 am: Run to the math classroom and try to not be late. First Algebra II class of the day. Today the students have a quiz so they are a bit nervous, but I give a little review for the first fifteen minutes of class. That calmed a few nerves. I recently took over these Algebra II classes, and it's been a learning curve for me as well as the students, but I think it is going well.
11:30 am: Run back to the symposium room and try not to be late. I am late. Oops (but only by 5 seconds so it is okay). Part two of study hall for freshman. This period is particularly fond of me playing Michael Bublé Christmas music in the background. Oh, side note, tomorrow these classes are having salsa and swing dancing lessons, and I am very excited to see all the nervous energy of freshmen students reach its peak.
12:20 pm: It’s lunch time, so I head to the staff lounge. I always eat in the staff lounge, it's usually full of fun conversation. Today we discussed cookie recipes the upcoming ASCV cookie party.
12:50 pm: Algebra II class two, same deal.
1:45 pm: Algebra II class three.
2:30 pm: School is over, and I help students who are finishing the Algebra II quiz.
2:45 pm: Grab waters and gear for our C-Squad basketball game. Organize carpool for team (they are slightly lost, but they all make it).
3:15 pm: Arrive at away team school (which I happened to student teach at last year), and get ready to coach a great game of basketball.
4:00 pm: Game starts.
4:40 pm: G Prep wins 51-11. Not too shabby for a very quick basketball game. Also, all 12 prep girls score!
5:30 pm: Grab dinner with a GU friend, and give them a ride to campus for their final (it was snowing).
6:15 pm: Get a haircut (a very spontaneous trip).
6:45 pm: Now off to the varsity basketball game at Prep. Jacque is the photographer, and I am her trusty sidekick. Prep takes a clean sweep for all the boys and girls teams. It's a great day for the Bullpups!
A Week in the Life: First Week of Advent Reflection
December 4, 2018
Written by Jacque Larson
A Week in the Life: Thanksgiving
November 28, 2018
Written by Jenny Albrecht, Becca Dunne, and Jacque Larson
During thanksgiving week I asked my freshman students: “What are you thankful for?” Especially during this time of year, it is important to reflect on what one has been blessed with and what has made one grow.
Most of them were thankful for things like:
Some added things like:
Some creative students were gracious for:
A few students were more profound, stating:
One of my favorite things is making lists. In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some things we, the Alumni Service Corps Volunteers, have been thankful for this year:
For the hand turkeys drawn for me by two creative students.
For the ability to stay in Spokane for another year.
For friendships, new and old.
For the opportunity to work for an organization with a mission that lifts up it’s students and employees.
For my best friend who never fails to make me laugh and bring out my best self.
For the excitement that comes about from certain Spotify playlists.
For a Jesuit friend that helped me through student teaching.
For days when you are a little sad, but have a deeper Joy that you are able to remember.
That the Zags are #1.
For a warm home during these cold winter nights.
That my parents got married 30 years ago.
That my college cross country coach helped me through college.
That my high school cross country coach taught me that it is never too late to be a champion.
For the formation of friends and community at this school.
For chocolate oreo pie.
For the trails on the south hill bluff.
For the ability to learn from mistakes.
For a cozy house that felt like “home” from the moment I stepped into it.
For housemates who let me be my silly and honest self.
For colleagues who have taken me in as one of their own from the start,
who care for me,
who love what they do,
and who are proud to be a part of this Jesuit school.
For one specific colleague who reminded me that I am not random;
that I have been placed at this school in this position for a reason.
For students who laugh with me.
For the never-ending supply of red licorice in Campus Ministry that has made its home on my desk.
For students who answer my crazy, sometimes silly, sometimes deep, questions in order to get a piece of licorice.
For lessons – in teaching, in working, in volunteering.
For the bringing together of different friend groups, especially at a time of transition in all of our lives.
For a mentor who encouraged me to not lose my voice - to speak up and to continue to offer my opinions and thoughts.
And for another mentor who loves me so dearly and delights in me.
For the familiarity of Spokane as well as the ability to continue discovering new things about Spokane.
For belly laughs.
For the complexity of human beings and, at the same time, the simplicity.
For my soft, fluffy pink blanket that keeps me warm and cozy.
For phone calls with friends and family.
For silence and reflection.
For newness and change.
For exercise, especially yoga.
For the many blessings I have received.
For the chance to mentor and grow alongside students.
For the opportunity to discern what I want to do with my life.
For budding relationships that still have plenty of time to blossom.
For the chance to remain in and give back to the Spokane community.
For the crisp winter weather that brings about a certain stillness in nature.
For the opportunity to work at an institution whose mission aligns with my beliefs.
For those who treated me like family by opening up their homes on Thanksgiving.
For the Centennial Trail & other newly discovered outdoor gems such as the Bluff.
For coaches, teachers, & other mentors I have been blessed with throughout my life.
For my family whose constant support, wise advice, and listening ears help keep me sane.
For far away friends who, at the advice of St. Ignatius, have gone forth to set the world on fire.
For my little sister & her hilarious Snapchats chronicling her day to day life as a college student.
For generous students who exceeded any & all expectations I had for a school-wide Food Drive.
A Week in the Life: What Does a Typical Day as an ASC Volunteer Look Like?
November 19, 2018
Written by Becca Dunne
7:30 am: Arrive at Gonzaga Prep.
7:30-8:00 am: I prepare for the day by setting up the Academic Success Center (ASC) whiteboard. This lists drop-in lunch and after school labs being offered on any particular day, along with the 5x7 laminated tutor bios listing who will be available to assist with students seeking help at the lab. If necessary, I meet with student tutors who are members of any given Academic Success Center Leadership committees such as the Marketing/Outreach Committee or Junior Thesis Support Team Committee. Then, I check Gmail to see if I have a sub assignment.
8:00-9:35 am: Next, I check-in with student tutors and tutees who utilize the first or second ASC Prep Periods. This may entail 1 on 1 conversations with students regarding their classes, missing assignments, grades, etc. Sometimes during this time, I ask question after question in an attempt to pry information out of students. Other times, I play the role of listener as I do my best to cultivate a welcoming environment that takes a holistic approach to interacting with student tutors and tutees.
9:35-9:50 am: At break, there is a lull in activity in the ASC for a brief amount of time. I might eat a snack, try (and fail) to buy one of the renowned burritos in the school cafeteria before students consume them all, or coordinate a 1 on 1 tutoring appointment.
9:55-10:40 am: During the third ASC Prep Period, we do not have any student tutors, so Mr. Walker & I help the students in this Prep Period. I will typically tutor any one of the three students in this period in a variety of subjects and try to provide organizational tips and promote different study skills. For example, I recently sat down with a student and quizzed him on the skeletal system using a study guide he was able to locate on Schoology.
10:45-11:30 am: During fourth period, I work in Christian Service, where I am currently finishing research on different organizations in Spokane that students partaking in the Junior Year Experience can volunteer at. I have learned about so many different opportunities to engage with the Spokane community that I had no idea existed. Additionally, since the school’s annual Food Drive is rapidly approaching, I have been devoting some of this time to helping with the Food Drive Committee. Today, for example, I tagged along with the students who are members of the Food Drive Committee as they picked up donated food from a local parish.
11:35-12:20 pm: Fifth period is my prep period. At this time, I am able to respond to emails, catch up on work, etc.
12:20-12:50 pm: During lunch, the Academic Success Center remains open. In fact, during this time, the ASC is usually buzzing with 1 on 1 tutoring appointments, Algebra Lab, Spanish Lab, Chemistry Lab, etc. As a result, I generally hang out in the ASC at this time and ensure that students sign in/out of the ASC.
12:55-1:40 pm: If I have been assigned to substitute teach during sixth period, I will do that. Otherwise, I head over to the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and assist with the Peer Notes program. This entails checking Schoology to see if student note takers are consistently uploading their most current classroom notes for any given subject.
1:45-2:30 pm: As 7th period is the second of my “sub” periods, I might sub for an absent teacher. This entails taking attendance, informing students of their assignment, and managing the classroom. If I do not have to sub during 7th period, I will return to the Academic Success Center. Here, as in first, second, and third period, I mentor student tutors and tutees and attempt to empower them in their studies.
2:30-4:00 pm: Because the library remains open for 30 minutes after the end of the school day, I serve as the temporary librarian at this time. I check books out to students, push chairs under desks, and shut the library down at 3:00 pm. For the last hour of my school day, I return to and help supervise the Academic Success Center. If students need help, I am available. Otherwise, I tidy up the ASC and chat with Mr. Birrer, Mr. Walker, or Mr. Pearson.
A Week in the Life: Jesuit Education
November 14, 2018
Written by Jenny Albrecht
This week I started with a whole new group of students for second quarter. This meant two things: icebreakers and learning 100 new names (not a great skill of mine).
One student while introducing herself expressed that she didn’t like Prep because of the differences she has experienced compared to the public school system she is used to. I appreciated her honesty and hope she gradually feels more at home here. This interaction, along with the Financial Aid Luncheon, got me thinking about Jesuit Education.
I went to a public high school. I enjoyed my friends and teachers, had good grades, played sports, did Running Start, and got into a good college, but I was one of the few. Out of the 425 students in my graduating class, only 4 or 5 went off to private universities.
I felt so blessed to attend Gonzaga University, a Catholic school with rigorous academics. Being a high school student that actually enjoyed being Catholic, I was envious of the kids in bigger cities that had the opportunity to attend Catholic High Schools.
I have always been well taken of and lived comfortably, but because of illnesses and other circumstances, my family didn’t have much extra. However, I always knew that my family valued education. I always knew I was going to college.
I would not have been able to attend Gonzaga University if I did not work to graduate a year early and receive numerous scholarships and loans, in addition to the help my family was able to give.
I often think to myself, would it have been easier to go to a much less expensive state school? I would definitely have less debt, but what would I be missing: New perspectives? A developed ability to think critically? Growth in faith? The opportunity to be a D1 athlete? Love and relationships? The camaraderie of an immensely interconnected community?
I believe that these can be found in public educational institutions, but faith, service, growth, and community are not the foundations of those systems.
Through Jesuit education, I have learned that every story has multiple perspectives, and that each voice deserves to be heard. I have learned that basketball games can bring a city together. I have learned to let people sit with me and the burdens that I carry, as I sit with others too.
The mission of Jesuit Education - to care for the whole person - that drives students to grow, is worth more than the monetary cost of the schooling.
Bethany Cummings eloquently stated at the Financial Aid Luncheon that without the generosity of Fair Share and scholarship donors she would not be able to attend Gonzaga Prep. She understands why Jesuit education matters. I have had the privilege to meet Bethany and I think it is safe to say one day she may very well be the President of the United States, not just ASB. Hopefully she will always attribute some of her success to her Jesuit Education.
I decided to join the Alumni Service Corps program because of the impact that Gonzaga University had on me. It inspired me to serve and give back to this community. Working for an institution whose mission aligns with my own values as both a person and teacher has helped me grow in my profession. The community at Prep has already made me feel immensely welcomed and appreciated, and I think this is what makes Jesuit Education special. Hopefully every student and employee will also come to feel this sense of belonging.
So yes, my family and I have given a lot of money, and this year I am sacrificing higher paid employment to serve as a volunteer,
but the benefits Jesuit Education are priceless.
A Week in the Life: The Gift of Gratitude
November 5, 2018
Written by Becca Dunne
Tis’ the season to be thankful.
Though giving thanks is something that can and should be practiced year around, I find that society puts a special emphasis on cultivating gratitude during the month of November. So, without further ado, here is my attempt to articulate what I, as an Alumni Service Corps Volunteer, am thankful for on any given day:
I’m thankful that my daily commute to work is only 2 minutes long – especially when I wake up at 7:24 am and have to scramble to make it to work in 6 minutes.
I’m thankful that I was able to serve at The O’Malley Apartments alongside fellow faculty and staff members at the annual Day of Service.
I’m thankful that, despite our home oven being broken, I was able to walk over to Jesuit Hall and carry through on plans to cook homemade pizza for our weekly Community Dinner.
I’m thankful for coworkers who are always so eager to lend a helping hand – whether by teaching me how to use the laminator, joking around to make the day pass more quickly, bringing scones for breakfast and curing my hangriness for that morning, or critiquing my resume.
I’m thankful for the earplugs that drown out the noise of football games when I want to go to sleep early on a Friday night. (But, as always, Go Bullpups!)
I’m thankful for students who feel compelled to challenge my authority on any given day, as it is during these situations where I have learned the meaning of true patience.
I’m thankful for fall foliage and crisp air, both signs that fall is giving way to winter.
I’m thankful that if I make an excuse or sleep in and miss Tuesday morning mass at the chapel, there are still two more times throughout the week during which I can celebrate my faith.
I’m thankful for family members and friends who have lent a listening ear and walked alongside me during this time of transition.
I’m thankful for all of the food that has been freely given to our home – even if this means I no longer look at lasagna the same after eating it for dinner for two weeks straight.
I’m thankful for the amazing opportunity I have been given to grow on a spiritual, intellectual, and affective level while serving at Gonzaga Prep.
I’m thankful for the gift that this year has been thus far and am hopeful for what is yet to come.
One of my favorite poses in yoga is a headstand. Why? Because when I am no longer able to view the world right-side up, my perspective changes. It’s during this upside-down time that I am able to alter the way I think about a situation, person, or conversation. To you, all of the things I listed above may not seem worthy of gratitude. However, by altering my perception of different situations, persons, and conversations, I am presented with the gift of framing what may seem like a nuisance as a blessing and what may seem trivial as worthy of celebration. Doing a year of service has not been easy in the slightest, but it has been a blessing nonetheless, and for that I am grateful.
A Week in the Life - A few of my thoughts from the week:
October 30, 2018
Written by Jacque Larson
A Week in the Life: Coffee Grounds
October 23, 2018
Written by Jenny Albrecht
Alright. I admit it. I'm guilty.
I left the coffee pot in the staff lounge empty when I was the one to pump the last drop into my favorite mug. And yes, I was there on a busy morning when a fellow employee just wanted to be blessed with a full mug, but what did they get? Empty mugs and empty hearts. Forgive me, I'm new here still, what do you expect?
Coffee is funny. People love it. People are addicted to it. People come together to share it.
And people get angry when it is all gone.
Sometimes we don't always appreciate what we have until it's gone,
when all we have left is the grounds.
But what is so bad about the grounds?
During the faculty and staff retreat, I spent three hours shovelling compost and wood chips in a garden for Catholic Charities. Ahhhhh the sweet smell of compost in the morning right after Indaba has dropped off this week's worth of coffee grounds. Who knew something we rarely appreciate and unknowingly pour into the trash can help create so much good? The compost enriched by these coffee grounds fuels the soil with nutrients to produce an abundance of fruit and veggies to be donated to those who do not always have access to fresh produce.
As a health teacher, I am loving supporting a program in which marginalized people get the food they need to be physically well.
As an orchard worker for three summers, my heart is happy to be around things that grow.
As a curious composter, I am intrigued be the sustainability of using something as simple as coffee grounds to help plants flourish.
The homily of the faculty and staff retreat mass eloquently stated that we are all parts of one body; as parts of the body of humanity, and the body of this community, we have to be nourished. When one part is nourished, other parts are also lifted up. When parts are weak or unacknowledged, the whole suffers. We have to nourish the parts that cannot always nourish themselves, and we have to make known the value in things that are overlooked.
So, what's my point here?
- Coffee is delicious and nourishing? True.
- To always refill the coffee pot? I guess.
- That G Prep should compost the coffee grounds in the staff lounge and build a community garden? No, but also not a bad idea.
- To ask ourselves: Are there people in the body of this community whom we don’t always acknowledge their full potential? Do we “throw them out,” and under-utilize their benefits, just like coffee grounds?
Food for thought.
A Week in the Life: The Times They Are A Changin’
October 15, 2018
Written by Becca Dunne
I’ve never liked change. In fact, my mom would emphasize that I loathe change. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit, and when my habits are interrupted, my sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear – increasing my heart rate and contracting my muscles – thereby sending me running toward comfort and familiarity.
But lately, I’ve had to confront change directly. There are new rules in this so-called “post-grad” life, many of which have left me frustrated, overwhelmed, uncertain, and, quite frankly, in tears. Since graduating in May, everything I’ve done has been unscripted. I said au revoir to the world of higher education I had grown fond of. I tightly embraced and said my goodbyes to dear friends at graduation. I went home and emphatically begged my parents to let me back out of a service commitment I had already agreed to for fear of the unknown. I had to come to terms with personal expectations I set – and failed to reach – for myself. I experienced a lonelier side to the ‘Spo Sum’ that everyone had always raved about. I moved into a different home with new individuals. And I began work in an unfamiliar community.
As the bounds of my comfort zone have been continuously stretched, though, I have also learned a great deal about myself and the ways in which I have the opportunity to perceive the world. Much to my dismay, I discovered that change is inevitable. And the longer I live the more obvious it becomes that change is one of only a few constants in our world that increasingly tends toward entropy. Energy I would love to waste opposing change could be directed toward much more productive, healthier pursuits such as planning our next Spirituality gathering, cooking new crockpot recipes for our weekly community dinner, using Canva to make flyers promoting labs hosted by Academic Success Center, listening attentively to students during grade checks, and trying to find housing in San Francisco for a spring break immersion trip.
One year ago, I never would have imagined that I would be doing any of these things.
But, such is life.
Nowadays, I do my best to lean into the discomfort that change tends to offer.
I once read that, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” The sappiest part of my soul says, “Ahhh...How sweet” upon hearing statements like this. The realist in me cringes because although cheesy, truer words have never been spoken. If the things I did were always within my comfort zone, I don’t think I’d be satisfied when looking back on my life.
So, with that, here’s to embracing new housemates, a new home, new coworkers, a new job, and new experiences. Though I often encounter challenges, my participation in the Alumni Service Corps program has illuminated ideas I once held about change and presented the opportunity for me to view change in a more positive light, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
A Week in the Life: “Love the Questions Themselves”
October 8, 2018
Written by Jacque Larson
Recently I’ve been asking a lot of questions:
“What is a typical day at G-Prep like?”
“How do you cook spaghetti squash?”
“What is my purpose? And where is my place?”
“What can I do to help?”
“Will you share that document with me?”
“How do you run an ad on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?”
“What do I want to be doing in a year from now?”
“When does this period of transition end?”
Some questions have easy answers. For example, you cook a spaghetti squash by cutting it in half, cover it in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook it at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. But others, such as my purpose or what my future may hold, are not as easily answered. Questions such as these require patience.
Patience – a practice that I have been resistant to recently. Resistant because everything in my life right now is in a state of transition, and practicing patience means that I won’t necessarily have total control over what happens and when it happens. I tend to like control.
Yet, regardless of how much I try to resist it, patience seems to be the answer to most all of my questions. In time and with patience I will begin to feel my purpose and find my place. In time and with patience I will discover what my life will look like in a year.
I recently read the following quote from Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) in his Letters to a Young Poet:
“I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… for everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer.”
To “love the questions themselves” and “bear with patience what is unresolved in your heart” have been on my mind all week. The world, God, the people in my life who know me best all keep reminding me of these things. I am in a state of transition. I just graduated from college. I just started a new job. I am living with new people. In these new environments I feel the invitation to embrace the question and sit with the unresolved. To be patient. To love the questions not for the sake of getting the answer, but for the wonder in the question. Not to seek answers but to recognize the beauty in what is unresolved.
This transition is teaching me patience. It’s teaching me humility. Its teaching me to rely on others and God, not on myself. These lessons are some of the most beautiful, most challenging, and sometimes the most frightening things to do as a human. But I’m reminded through this transition period that I need other people and I need God.
Some of my questions have simple or direct answers. Some will take time and patience. And some may not get answers. But that, I’m finding, is part of the beauty in loving the questions themselves.
What I keep coming back to is my purpose. Perhaps it is something that will grow and transform as the year progresses. But I also remember I am here because this is where I felt I could serve; where I could encourage students to learn about the depths of who they are and of the love that is all around them waiting to be discovered.
This week, as I thought about the questions, and as I continued to fail in practicing patience by searching for answers, I was reminded that I too need to be reminded that love is all around me. This is my invitation to discover it.