Friday, May 19, 2017

Mo's last Blog

Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), an outreach of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., invites College of Saint Benedict alumnae to join the monastic community in deepening relationships that support justice and service in a new location. Volunteers strive to live out the Benedictine Gospel values that were formed during their undergraduate education in a capacity that will challenge them personally, spiritually and professionally.

The women's year of service is coming to an end. This week Mo Shannon Thornton shares her final thoughts about her experience.
I have about two weeks left here in Bristow. While I’m extremely excited to return home, I’m also sad to be leaving my students behind. I didn’t expect to form such a close bond with them. In my previous blog post, I mentioned how I didn’t think I would enjoy teaching ESOL as much as I did. I didn’t think I had what it took to be a good teacher. I didn’t think I had enough patience, or the passion to be able to teach others effectively. Boy, was I wrong! Not only have I gained patience, but I’ve also gained satisfaction from seeing my students blossom. In November, when I first started teaching, many of my students could not communicate with me or with each other. They were scared to speak the little English they knew in fear of being made fun of. I have students who are from Afghanistan, China, the Congo, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. As one could imagine, it was very difficult trying to get my students not only communicate with me, but also with each other. Not only were they in a new environment but they were also being exposed to different nationalities.
When I hear stories of my students accomplishing their goals against all the odds stacked up against them, it makes me realize that anything is possible! Recently, one of my students got a job in housekeeping at the local Marriot Hotel. This student in particular started out with a very thick French accent, couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone in English, and hated to speak in front of the class. Fast forward to present day, she is one of my strongest students. She now loves to participate in class, and in fact gets a little upset with me if I don’t call on her to answer a question. To see the tremendous progress she has made is truly inspiring. To go from not being able to hold a conversation in English, to obtaining a job that requires one to speak English takes dedication and perseverance. And I’m blessed enough to see that dedication and perseverance in all my students. 
Besides missing my students, I’ll also miss the sisters whom I’ve made a special connection with. I’ll miss playing Rummy every Sunday night with Sister Mary Ellen and Sister Henry Marie. I’ll miss talking about Southern cooking with Sister Connie Ruth, and I’ll definitely miss the needed hugs given to me by Charlotte Lange. There have been many other special moments and acts of kindness I’ve experienced while being here. While living in Virginia I’ve experienced a lot of change in my life. I’ve also experienced A LOT of uncomfortableness. Both which have led me to be more self-aware of who I want to be as a person, and to be conscious of the mark I choose to leave on others. 
My students and the Benedictine sisters of Virginia will always have a special place in my heart. And for that I am truly thankful to have met them! 

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