By Otilia Drugescu, Région Lasallienne Européenne-Mediterranéenne (RELEM)
For most of us, our journey in the Lasallian mission began as something usual. We tried to do our work in the best way. Then someone who believed in us appeared. That person gave us the power and the courage to do more, to have high expectations of ourselves, to commit more, and to really believe that we can be the change we want to see. So, after some years, we are here in Rome at the 3rd International Symposium of Young Lasallians.
We arrived here with hopes, fears, enthusiasm, and the desire to give our best and to take the best from others. We are aware that there are people who are investing in us – work, time, money, and trust. We want to return home and share what we lived here, to transmit the enthusiasm and to take concrete actions. We have hopes that we’ll manage to transmit the spirit and the feelings we had here, but at the same time we are afraid of disappointing the people that are trusting us.
The whole group of participants is made up of more than 45 members who came from all over the world (F= 41%, M = 59%).
Our Regional group (RELEM) had our first meeting on Saturday. The objective was to become more aware of the purpose of the symposium, to know each other, and to know the different realities from each District. Our team is comprised of 10 people: Joseph Gilson (ICYL) and Paula Sciberras (Malta), Berengere Pichelin (France), Celine Gillardin (Belgium), Aitor Zulaika (ICYL) and M. Eugenia Vazquez Laboisse (Spain), Sireen Ghanem (Palestine), Vittoria Scattone (Italy), Siobhan Wyatt (Ireland), and Otilia Drugescu (Roumania).
The people everywhere around the world are aware of their local reality, their local needs. What we are trying to do is a global way of cooperation, with clear and intended outcomes.
Yesterday, Bro. Álvaro reminded us about our important role as young people. We have the present; we can build the future.
Sometimes the future seems to be full of uncertainty rather than hope. What is the hope in a world full of crisis? We have to find the power in ourselves and in our communities to stimulate the hope and to not let it be stolen by others.
If we really want to touch hearts, we have to be witnesses and examples, not just using words and strategies. Being a witness is not just for the time we’re with the kids, it’s a lifetime project.
I appreciated the highlight of the relationship between the young people and the church. I believe that we need a church that can find us in our reality, as Bro. Álvaro said, in our sadness, in ours tears, hopes, and dreams…
Joseph Gilson, the International Coordinator of the Young Lasallians, made us reflect on some important aspects:
- What gifts and talents do I bring to the Lasallian mission?
- What is my personal dream/goal?
- How is it energized and empowered by the collective Lasallian dream?
- What we are doing is not only important; it is ESSENTIAL to the sustainability of Lasallian educational mission.
- What we are doing is not to be just a nice firework, but a virus. We have to be contagious in our mission.
More than this, he gave us his personal example of what vocation means. He renounced his job to become an unpaid volunteer because he really believed in education. Now, through his full-time job, he can change things and is contagious with his passion for what he’s doing.
If I could give a name to the first day, it would be: “The Sense of Belonging.” We are so many and so different, yet still believing and promoting the same values.
The second day has begun with a common prayer prepared by Bro. Enrico. The main emphasis was on the rights of the kids and on the commitment we make in our work.
The first address was given by Brother Thomas Johnson, Vicar. He spoke about the future and about Lasallian education.
How can we educate for the future if we don’t know what is going to be?
In a world full of choices, our main choice is what we worship. What are the criteria to judge the success of our schools?
The schools have to provide education that is current and addresses the needs the students have now. We have to prepare the students for life, not just give them information. We have to educate, not just give instruction. We need to touch the hearts, to form the personality, to prepare young people that are ready to commit themselves in changing the world to a better place.
Let us be the kind of teacher that inspired and believed in us. We have to transmit through our style of teaching, our vocation, our love for what we’re doing.
Referring to service for the poor, we should ask ourselves: who are the poor in our reality and how do we respond to their needs?
Being here and seeing how many different realities we’re coming from, I must emphasize what Bro. Tom said: we have one identity, but we live our local reality. So, we have to adapt what we are, what we know, and what we discover, to the local needs. It’s about creativity. We have to find the resources that we have and take advantage of them.
Another impressing moment was the presentation made by Aitor Zulaika (ICYL). He spoke about the Lasallian pedagogy in a very passionate way. The main point was the fact that we need to think more of how we’re responding to the needs of the children entrusted to us; we have to adapt the Lasallian education “in the light of the current educational trends.” It is important that continued formation be made in the same institution we’re working in, because we need to share, to improve, and to be understood, in order to have a common way of educating.
Vittoria Scatone (Italy): “Full of words, full of hope. Even if you know that you’re doing the right things, you need empowerment and the confirmation that this is the right house we’re building. The things that impressed me more: if you share and live your dream with the others, the dream can become a reality.”
Celine Gillardin (Belgium): “It’s really nice to be here with so many cultures. I’m impressed by what people are doing in their countries. They motivate me to move and maybe change something in Belgium. Very well organized, very professional and the speakers are different and good.”
Sireen Ghanem (Palestina): “It has been very inspiring and fruitful. The amount of information from all over the world is scaring.”