The past few months have flown by, but they’ve been full of memorable experiences and special moments. As I’ve settled into this new chapter of my life – improving my German skills, building friendships, being given more responsibility at work – I’ve grown to recognise the importance of taking control of my life and putting time into things that fulfill me. In October I travelled to Ireland with Brother Michael and two ex-volunteers (Sonja and Leonie) where we had the chance to speak to students at the three Marist high schools in Dublin. Though I was nervous to speak in front of so many people, the experience gave me the chance to 1. Reflect on my mindset nearing the end of high school and the uncertainty I felt, and 2. Reflect on my impact as a volunteer.
In my final year of school I was incredibly unmotivated and had no direction for my life path, a feeling a lot of students have when suddenly put under pressure to make decisions for the rest of their lives. Though I’m still not completely certain of what I’m doing with my life, I appreciate the fortunate position I was in nearing the end of school where I heard of the opportunity to volunteer for a year. Being able to take a small break from the decision making and having time to clear my mind and really think and feel and experience has been invaluable. I’m hopeful that in Ireland and all over the world more and more young people give themselves an opportunity for growth.
I’ve felt conflicting feelings with my work experience. On one hand I deeply enjoyed building connections with the elderly people I worked with. Though my impact was limited, one of my co-workers instilled the idea in me that these people have lived long lives and my work is to make the last chapter of their lives as peaceful and comfortable as I can, which made me put as much effort in as I could and made me work with patience and kindness (even under pressure) . On the other hand, at times I felt out of place, as though my exact responsibilities were not outlined and from person to person my role changed. I had to step out of my comfort zone and force myself into being needed often, and though I appreciate the bit of confidence this gave me, it also left me going up and down between feeling welcome and appreciated, or feeling like a burden and obstacle. Still not being able to communicate well became frustrating because there was no time to explain or express my opinion,
I have struggled a bit with the Marist part of my identity. I’ve been faced with many situations that made me question its validity and if I am truly welcome because of certain contrasting beliefs in me and in other Marists. Though it seemed simple on the surface, I found myself pushing further away from certain beliefs, not because I was being pressured, but because it seemed as though there was an assumption I would eventually come around and change, and I felt as though I was a disappointment for not. That being said, I truly am grateful for the small CMI community we have, which has always been incredibly supportive and a safe space. The young Marist community gives me hope as even though we all come from different backgrounds and will take different paths in our lives, we all care about being of service and making the world a better place. It was a risk to travel across the world to join a group of people I’d never even seen photos of before, but from the beginning Nyasha and I were met with such compassion and warmth that no matter the external difficulties, we always had a solid base.
From Didi Mogodi