What I Learned During My Volunteer Year

What I Learned During My Volunteer Year

It is nearly impossible to sum up ten-months of your life in one blog post, especially when those ten-months involved moving across the country, starting a new job, and meeting tons of new people. Well here is my attempt:

Doing a volunteer year is unlike any other year of your life, and unlike any other post-grad opportunity one can find. For most who decide to go down the unique path of a volunteer year, the aspects I listed above are huge focal points of our year, but just the surface. You learn about things you never thought you would learn, you experience thing you never pictured yourself experiencing, and you start to value the things you never thought you would value. I can fill the rest of this post with the things I learned (like how to cook meatloaf or what Hogwarts house I belong in (go Hufflepuffs!) and things I experienced (like surfing and the wonders of butterbeer), but I feel that what’s most important is realizing what you value.

Before my volunteer year, I would say I was never truly on my own, even though I lived at college two hours away from my home and went to high school a 40-minute subway ride away. I always felt that I had things I knew I could rely on in case of an emergency, like the school cafeteria for food and friends down the hall if I got lonely. During this year there were times I felt completely alone. Yes I had my community and coworkers to help me out, but at the end of the day I was the one running the Christian Service program at St. Bonaventure or I was the one cooking dinner. There were also more times this year than ever where I hung out with myself, and during those times I really learned what I valued. I value my family, I mean I always have, but now I value all they have taught me and continue to teach me. I value my friends for their continuous support, advice and entertainment. I value my home for shelter and a place to be myself. I value conversations that provide me with a laugh, knowledge, or insight. And finally, at the risk of sounding arrogant: I value myself, which has enabled me not only to survive the lonely times but thrive in them. I like the person I have become and I strive to be more of that person every day. This year has afforded me the opportunity to become a genuine version of myself, and I look forward to continuing that beyond my year with the Augustinians.

Ryan Masserano
Ventura, CA 2015-2016

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