Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Self-discovery Through the Enneagram

The following is a reflection written by Earl Carlos, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

One of my reasons for joining Amate House is to find out a little more about who I am by immersing myself in the neighborhood I am living in, by getting to know the stories of my co-workers and clients and by being inspired by my vibrant and loving community. The more open we are to experience, to change and to life itself, the more we will slowly and gradually uncover life’s mysteries and beauty; an unsaid and unexplainable beauty that takes conscious effort and perseverance to unveil. Deciding to spend a year with Amate House is a part of my effort to uncover that, and finding out about our personalities is just another small part of that lifelong process.

Our In-Service Day this past week took us to meeting a lady who is very passionate about the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a tool used to recognize our hidden and not-so-hidden tendencies of our personalities. It classifies individuals under 9 different types, each type being highly significant and interconnected to the other types. Everyone was very excited and open to the experience and it was definitely interesting actively trying to ‘type’ ourselves under a certain personality. It is very important to remember, as emphasized by our speaker for the day that identifying and recognizing our type is not supposed to trap us or destine us to be that type for the rest of our lives. Identifying and coming to grips with our type is supposed to help us find ways to free ourselves from both our hidden and not-so-hidden “kinks and quirks.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Amate Volunteer

The following is a reflection written by Katie Pollard, one of this year's South House Volunteers.

After pressing snooze on my alarm three times, I frantically pull myself together in the morning and hop in the red van with McKenna for the routine drive from South House to Academy of Saint Benedict the African. Upon arrival at the Catholic elementary school in Englewood, I greet a vibrant classroom filled with eager fifth-graders completing the morning work assigned by Ms. Schallock (Amate alum ’10-’11). This is my first year working in a school, and as the assistant teacher for fifth grade (slash substitute teacher, religion teacher, and extended day staff member), I have come to realize that the rest of our structured days in the school will in fact be wonderfully unpredictable. Our schedules are as set as they can be in elementary school, but every day in my first month at work has had its own set of challenges and joys.

I am still adjusting to my new role as educator and role model, adapting to school mores and procedures, and getting to know the students and their stories. Low moments (or I suppose I will call them “opportunities for growth”) include: my somewhat frequent inability to take control of chaotic groups or motivate students to “keep their voices off” at appropriate times; frustration when students struggle to understand lessons; and the not infrequent act of misbehavior or backlash of attitude. Every day I learn from the staff, students, and my own mini successes or failures how to improve as a teacher, leader, and friend. High points (which always make the moments of frustration seem less important) include: the excitement on students’ faces when a topic truly excites them or “clicks”; frequent hugs, hilarious comments, and unsolicited kindness; and unexpected questions about life, God, and everything from seals to my love life. Although it can be easy for me to get frustrated, the kids and their genuine goodness help me to keep everything in perspective. At the end of the day, I am there to help them realize their full potential. They push me to cultivate the unselfish patience and thoughtful understanding that this task will require.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Carrying on in Community

The following is a reflection written by Katy Gill, one of this year's North House Volunteers.

As the story goes, an old, old nun, known as Sister Clotilde lives in limbo amongst us Amate North volunteers, never to have left this convent which was once her home. She lurks about the halls, once inhabited by the habited. (Pun!) Mostly keeping to herself, Sister Clotilde is only spoken of on occasion, when something goes missing, or strange noises are heard. She is very mysterious. She is very inconspicuous. And she is very… made up.
It’s certainly a fun way to entertain ourselves, musing about what Sister Clotilde might be doing with her days in this place. But it’s perhaps more curious to imagine what the real sisters who dwelled here before us, were once doing long before we arrived – the very real sisters, whose ghosts don’t really haunt our bedrooms, but whose legacy has been left behind, and perhaps been a bit forgotten.

To follow in the footsteps of vowed religious life: what big shoes we must have to fill. But the shoes are nowhere to be found. How are we to know whether our feet are really fitting into the sweet little black sneakers that once squeaked about these grounds? We don’t see the faces or know the names of the leaders here before us.