Today, in this day and age we are consumed by media, publicity and all things mass media involved, that we forget about the little things that makes us human. The little things such as kindness, showing appreciation or even care, we tend to push to the side and continue going about our business. However, in life there are these rare moments that grab you and ask you important questions that can only be answered by self-reflection. For example, this question was presented to me by a student at Bushwick Leaders High School in Brooklyn: “How many lives do you think you’ve changed?” I was in the middle of giving a presentation to a service learning class when the question was asked. At first, I was baffled by the question because of all the internal reflecting it caused me to do, and then it made me smile because I realized that I could relate to the students in front of me as we were all there trying to learn and make a difference. Service is something that brings many lives together and thus it enhances our appreciation for our environment and the people around us.
When I decided to embark on a year of service through Good Shepherd Volunteers I did not expect to be faced with one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life. As a counselor at Bushwick Leaders High School (BLHS) some of my duties include having one on one therapy sessions with students as well as facilitating one group therapy session a week. I am also part of the after-school program that provides students with a space to learn music, dance, sports, cooking, art, boxing and anime. My duties in after school include interacting with the kids and helping other instructors during their lessons.
It has been a difficult year; the difficulties stem from the distance from home and the intensity of the work I am doing. Although difficult, this year has proven to be such a rewarding experience. The relationships I have built throughout my time at BLHS remind me every day of why I chose to do a year of service. I have built several relationships with students, ranging from the relationships with the students I counsel to the students I see and interact with in after school.
Part of my role as a counselor involves meeting with individual students once a week managing a caseload of six students. My relationship with each student is very different. One student in particular has touched my life. Through our work he has learned how to express what he is feeling, and has reflected on the progress he has made in his life. He has trusted me and looks forward to our session during the week. Being able to provide him with a safe space to express his feelings and thoughts has been such a rewarding experience. Along with the relationships I have made with my students, I have also been able to create and harbor relationships with the people I work with. Part of my job entails having supervision with my supervisor once a week. My supervisor Leo has been a supportive person throughout my time at BLHS. As my supervisor he helps me work through difficult situations I may be having with my students. Furthermore, relationships with my co-workers have helped me in my time as a volunteer, being surrounded by supportive people eases the difficulties of being away from home.
Being a Good Shepherd Volunteer at Bushwick Leaders High School has proven to be a blessing to me; I hope that I have made a difference in the lives of the people I work with.
Written by Cynthia Garcia
Bushwick Leaders High School
Brooklyn Community, 16-17