Orientation in Chicago July 21-August 1

I spent about 10 days in the Chicago area, getting to know the other volunteers and prepping for my position. The orientation was at Lewis University in Romeoville.

Friday was a short day, as the volunteers from the midwest and east coast were arriving into the afternoon. We did some getting to know you activities, and basic introduction stuff.

Saturday was really cool. We went to Mundelein for the Transition Ritual with the Midwest Brothers, and then we had lunch with them. It was one of the really interesting things I’ve ever seen the Christian Brothers involved in. We got done a little early, so Peter introduced us to this fun game called Psychiatrist. Everyone stands in a circle and one person (the Psychiatrist) leaves. The other people choose a “disorder” that the Psychiatrist has to figure out by asking questions. We did a couple of fun ones. One time, we all thought that the Psychiatrist was wearing ass-less chaps, one time we thought the Psychiatrist was hitting on us, one time the people two down from the one being asked a question suddenly got really itchy. It was a lot of fun and very entertaining! We went to mass at Saint Dennis Church that evening. It was an interesting mass. It felt like it had a southern Baptist feel to it, lots of communal singing during the mass, including in the middle of the homily, and they had a projector with the song lyrics in the corner that flashed notifications before and after mass ended. It was an atypical mass, but pretty cool, and very fun! But extra hot!!! That night we learned about St. John Baptist de la Salle and then social. Desiree and I were up late talking, yet again!

Sunday was an adventure day! We went to a Ropes Course at Covenant Harbor, Wisconsin. It’s one of my least favorite activities because of the heights, but I still had a lot of fun. My group was awesome, and I found myself totally trusting them. We did some fun activities in smaller groups before we hit the low ropes, and that stuff was tough! The low ropes activities made me super nervous, and I had MASSIVE butterflies in my stomach the entire time I was on the rope that was barely 2 1/2 feet in the air. But we did it smoothly and quickly. Everyone got across the rope and we moved on to the”swamp-volcano” structure. Which got challenging once people lost the ability to talk or use limbs, but we did it! After lunch, we did high ropes. And by we, I mean they did high ropes and I caught them at the end of the zipline and helped them down, which was about all I was willing to handle. It was a fun and energizing day, FILLED with bonding.

On Monday, we had to go to Yoga or Taize. I went to Taize and LOVED it. It was a completely different prayer experience and it felt awesome. Later that day, we talked about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and I am as INTJ (Introvert, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging). This means I have an original mind and great drive for implementing my ideas and achieving my goals. I can quickly see patters in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, I can organize a job and carry it through. I am skeptical and independent and I have high standards of competence and performance for both myself and others. Which, I would say is a pretty good assessment. We also talked about conflict resolution in the afternoon and got to work within our communities to get to know how we will all be able to interact together.

On Tuesday, we talked about community life in the morning, and then went exploring in Chicago, and that was an interesting experience. We got to see the Bean, the Marilyn Monroe statue and Navy Pier, all of which was totally awesome!

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Then we got lost trying to get back to the meeting place. But we made it back and had dinner and prayer at the Back of the Yards community with the brothers. That evening we played a few hours of sand volleyball, which was so much fun. I didn’t realize how much I missed team sports!

On Wednesday we talked about professionalism, and discussed our contracts, and after lunch we did prayer workshops, which gave me a lot of insight on what I can do for community prayers. The LVs Ride group arrived on Wednesday and we spent a little time socializing with them. That night we had the presentation on Circular 461, which is extremely important to the Lasallian mission.

Thursday we spend with the Nobles doing a retreat day. We had a lot of fun relaxing and discovering ourselves and how to cope with things that happen. We even got to do a little painting, which I loved. And I only got a little bit of paint on my shirt! That night we started our Site Service Workshops. I was put in the high school group, and our presenters were very helpful and entertaining. They kept us interested and made it relaxed and laid back, but still structured.

On Friday, we spent most of the day in the workshops and ended the night with the FSC awards. We recognized three people serving in the Midwest district.

We spend Saturday in a Diversity Workshop. I really enjoyed the morning portion of the presentation, but the afternoon session left me feeling depleted and unable to help. She didn’t inspire me, but rather discouraged me. Which I think was rather unfortunate. I hope others got more out of her presentation, but I personally felt like she was preaching at me. I got the impression that I wasn’t the right type of person to serve because I am white and my family is well-off, that I can’t understand where other people are coming from. I also didn’t feel like she was very inviting to speak to. She actually struck me as being a bit stand-offish. And I hated that she tried to make us see her by separating out the things like race, gender, sexuality, etc. I prefer to get to know a person and discover these things along the way, rather than having them presented to me right up front. I felt like she was shoving the way she feels she has been treated down my throat and trying to make me prejudice against her and those around me. Some of her comments were almost trying to force prejudice on us, making us define ourselves based on gender, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, economic class, religion, etc. But that is just how I felt. I’m sure others out there felt differently. And I hope that there were people that she actually got through to. I personally prefer other diversity workshops I have been to over this one.

Sunday was commissioning and liturgy followed by a barbeque, and then cleaning up and hanging out for the last time. People started leaving that night (Sean and Jim, hope Tulsa is going well!!!), and others just hung out relaxing and enjoying one another’s company. I went to bed around 2ish, all packed and ready to go for the next day.

On Monday, I got up at 4 am to say goodbye to people as they left. It was easier than saying farewells all at once the night before, and I liked being able to give them each a hug before they headed out. I got to say prayer with LVs Ride before they left and see all of them off before I had to head out…

I then climbed into the van with Chris, Joanny, Andrew, Jenni, and Amanda and off we went to the airport, Charlie and Bernard (Chris’ teddy bear and bamboo) safe and sound.

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