A few weeks ago, Maggie, one of the BWSC women volunteering in Tanzania, asked me to write about what I have learned about myself in relation to the Benedictine Values. I wanted to share with you what my thoughts were.
“If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.” I mentioned this quote in one of my first blog posts at the start of this adventure, as a reminder that I have a lot to give when I give from my heart. During my time in Puerto Rico, my understanding and appreciation for this quote has grown, especially in relation to the Benedictine Value of Stewardship, and the closely linked concept of sustainability.
The first couple weeks as a volunteer teacher were frustrating. As I expressed approximately 10 months ago, I felt like I could not do a good job teaching without a projector, the Internet, textbooks, and a curriculum! I was trying to give what I had to these students, but my resources felt limited.
A few weeks ago I found myself at the Art and Science Gala, surrounded by students and their parents. They were all so grateful for the enthusiasm and motivation they saw me sharing with their children. The parents, more than anyone, knew their children needed this, and that is what I was able to give. A gift from the heart.
When practicing stewardship, it is important to take care of the belongings of others, which is why sustainability is also important. I wanted to give what I could to Colegio San Benito, in a sustainable way. By heading the WeCycle program, I was able to help these students learn to take initiative with the resources they have. I was not able to donate money to implement an immediate change, but with the idea of stewardship and sustainability in mind, I was able to encourage the students to become leaders of their school and continue the WeCycle program for many years to come. I know that what I gave will extend beyond the WeCycle program – the students now value the idea of stewardship and are better equipped to give with their hearts in a sustainable way.
I have learned countless lessons in the past 10 months, and I have come to greatly appreciate each of the Benedictine values, however, I think my idea of stewardship has grown the most.
If I had to add another value that I've come to appreciate and learn a lot about, it would have to be friendship.
In college, you don’t necessarily need to be friends with your roommate, you just need to be able to live with them. However, in the Benedictine Women’s Service Corp program in Puerto Rico, this doesn’t relate as well – not when you share meals, an office, students, a bathroom, a closet, and are together constantly around the clock. Friendship has been an essential element in my experience this year, as well as an additional Benedictine value.
Sarah and I have become friends. As friends, we care for each other, and look out for each other in an equal give-and-take arrangement. We have depended on each other for success, fulfillment, and happiness. We listen carefully, show empathy, and want the best for each other. In the mutual understanding that we have, we are able to allow space when we need to be alone, or with God.
The value of friendship is one that supported me during my time in Puerto Rico. It allowed me to make and grow from my mistakes. Friendship fosters all Benedictine values, and I am happy that my friendship has been able to grow this year.
The lessons that I have learned about stewardship, sustainability, and friendship are only a fraction of the lessons that I have been impacted by this year. At this point, it's hard to fathom the idea that I will be leaving SO soon. That what my life has been for the past 10 months is about to change drastically. It's hard to reflect on everything that has happened during my time in Puerto Rico. But as I start the reflection process, I know that it is all a good thing. I am finally able to look back and begin to feel thankful and happy about all of it. I look forward to sharing a bit of my experience with everyone soon! Until then...