(MORAGA, Calif.) On Sunday, July 16, I cautiously entered Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport with an intense amount of anxious curiosity plaguing my mind. I had never flown on an airplane before. Throughout my life, I had hardly ever traveled. Thus, I felt severely misplaced while standing in the crowded airport lobby. However, as I clumsily stumbled through airport security, baggage checks, and flight terminals, I quickly became fascinated with typical airport surroundings. Then, at precisely 8:15 AM, I boarded a flight heading to Moraga, California, where I would plunge head-first into the crazy little world of Lasallian Student Leaders (LSL).
While residing at St. Mary’s College of California, I participated in Lasallian Student Leaders, a five-day Lasallian leadership conference focused upon servant leadership. Along with me, 13 additional St. Paul’s School students attended the conference, including Larry Rase, William James, Christian Harrison, Isaac Hebert, Kyle Schmitt, Hanzala Hussain, Ethan Haydel, Christopher Wilson, Andrew Moore, Blake Ramsey, Jack Blossman, Christopher Wallace, and Justin King. The St. Paul’s attendees were accompanied by Campus Minister Jeffrey Ramon and Class of 2012 graduate Andrew Mullet.
At the heart of LSL were the Lasallian Five Core Principles. These principles, which serve as the basis for Lasallian education, were actively exemplified by all LSL participants throughout the course of the conference. The Lasallian Five Core Principles include Faith in the Presence of God, Concern for the Poor and Social Justice, Respect for All Persons, Quality Education and Inclusive Community.
“While at LSL, I gained a greater understanding of the Lasallian Five Core Principles,” Larry Rase said. “Each morning began with a prayer service dedicated to a particular Lasallian principle, which provided me with valuable opportunities to consider the importance of the Lasallian mission. As Lasallians, we are called to live out these principles. This was obvious among everyone who attended the conference.”
As the tumultuous week rapidly progressed, I was able to successfully connect with numerous young student leaders throughout the Lasallian District of San Francisco New Orleans. Although hundreds of miles away from home, a distinct sense of Lasallian family, fraternity, and fellowship ran deep throughout St. Mary’s College of California’s scenic campus. Despite extreme lack of sleep and intense exhaustion, LSL participants effectively formed lasting personal bonds with their fellow Lasallian brothers, sisters and mentors.
“The Lasallian community at LSL was like a massive family,” Kyle Schmidt said. “As brothers and sisters of the Lasallian mission, we all bonded together and grew as leaders. Through common hobbies, interests, and various school leadership positions, we were able to form lasting relationships that sparked powerful connections and friendships. Everyone was accepted, and nobody was left out. It was truly an amazing experience.”
During the conference, LSL participants spent their days organizing, planning and constructing the week’s activities and events. Students were divided into different committees, where they coordinated specific components of the week’s multiple festivities. All the while, LSL participants developed fundamental leadership skills essential to influencing individuals within their own school communities. Additionally, through educational seminars and informative discussions, students gained useful skills integral to executing leadership strategies.
“I learned important leadership skills, like professionalism, public speaking strategies, and how to become an effective model a servant leadership,” William James said. “However, most of the skills I took away from LSL were not learned during seminars or educational discussions. Rather, I learned the most from interacting with students from all over the country. I’m a much more tolerant person now, and I am more open to new ideas and thoughts.”
On Sunday, July 23, we all returned to the Louis Armstrong International Airport empowered with a newly-discovered sense of confidence, purpose and understanding. Equipped with the beneficial knowledge that was successfully acquired during LSL, I personally remain determined to forge a persisting Lasallian influence within the community of St. Paul’s.
Photos by Abel Gutierrez.