Monday, July 13, 2015

Meet A Dominican Volunteer-David Gayes

David Gayes currently serves as an English Language teacher at the Tolton Center in Chicago. He also serves at Casa Juan Diego, an after school program. At the end of his first year of service as a Dominican Volunteer we asked him to share with us his experience with the program.

Why did you decide to become a Dominican Volunteer?
I attended Dominican University in River Forest Illinois. My major was in Spanish Studies and my two miners were Theology and Social Justice & Civic Engagement. At my university, I was shaped by the importance of service, social justice, and the Dominican way of life. I knew I wanted to put them into practice and serve my community. Dominican Volunteers USA offered a way to do that and a way to grow.
What was the most surprising thing during your volunteer time?
When I came to my ministry to teach English as a second language With the Tolton Center in Chicago I didn't know what to expect. The people that surprised me most were my students. I was surprised at how welcoming they were to me as a new teacher. I was moved by their willingness to share their powerful and profound life experiences. And I was impressed by their strong desire to learn and embrace United States culture. 
One story illustrates my students’ generosity. After teaching for only a few weeks, one of my students gave me an apple, a symbol for a teacher. I was moved by this simple gesture of love, and appreciation from my students.
What was the one thing you wish you could change?
 As an English as a Second Language teaching assistant, I serve many immigrants and people who are undocumented. Through their stories and experiences, I receive a firsthand look of the injustices of the United States immigration system, as well as the many obstacles my students must overcome. I wish that I could do more to fix this unjust and broken system. I remind myself that teaching English is a needed service that makes a substantial difference in in the lives of my students.
How this year changed you?
 One year into the program, I now have a better understanding of struggles people go through in learning English and American culture. I have cultivated long-lasting relationships and friendships with people different than myself both in my community, and in my ministry. I have learned so much from Sister Beth Murphy, and Sister Martha Marie Kirbach, two sisters who dedicate their lives to serving others.
 What would you say to volunteers of 2015-16?
I would say keep an open mind. You are embarking on a life-changing journey in your community and your ministry. Be open to wherever that journey may lead you.

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