In celebrating 25 years of ASC, we know that our success with service to schools depends upon those who have come before us. It is in that knowledge that we share with you a reflection from ASC alum Patrick Jennewein, graduate of De Smet Jesuit and also ASC who served at De Smet Jesuit last year. Here is Patrick’s reflection after having finished his year of service. It’s a Great Day to be ASC!
When I was in fourth grade, I read a book by Gary Paulsen entitled “Hatchet.” In the book, Brian Robeson is on a plane to visit his father in Canada for the summer when the pilot suffers a heart attack and Brian is forced to crash land in the middle of the wilderness. This book, eventually becoming the first of a long series, recalls Brian’s struggles with trying to survive in the wilderness with nothing but a hatchet. At first, he finds his situation unbearable. Yet later on in the series, his newly found appreciation for the wilderness instead makes acclimating himself to a comfortable, suburban home life unbearable. In other words, this plane crash – once a deviation for this young man so accustomed to comfort – became the anchoring experience for the rest of his life.
It’s funny how a book one reads in fourth grade only becomes so relevant nearly fifteen years later.
ASC was a diversion for me. It was an experience that I just had to have before committing my life to the field of law. I never really knew exactly why I felt so passionate about it but I knew that I was drawn to the idea of giving back directly to my community and I was excited about having the opportunity to positively influence a student like my teachers had influenced me. Looking back, it was a great experience, sure, but becoming engrossed in the art of teaching had never been a part of “the plan.”
In fact, I tried to fight it. I kept telling myself that, while I was having a blast teaching and though I had achieved such fulfillment from actively witnessing my students’ growth, this was not a part of “the plan” that I felt compelled to stick to. Though I would put hours into lesson planning some nights, I would open an LSAT test booklet just before bed to keep the concepts fresh in my mind. While I do legitimately believe I had the best community, I couldn’t spend time with them as much as I should have due to my own attachment anxieties. This was all a part of my coping mechanism to stick to “the plan.”
Yet as I write this blog (seemingly a bit late considering ASC 25 is in full swing), I am living out my “plan.” My shirt is pressed, shoes are shined, and I have just returned from working alongside some of the most successful people I know in the field of law. Yet what I have continually learned in my time since leaving ASC is that teaching, especially in the Ignatian tradition, is not something you do. A teacher in the Ignatian tradition is something you are.
Like Brian Robeson, I have realized that ASC – once a diversion in my life – isn’t something one walks away from unaffected. I am forever changed and, though some best laid plans fall through, I am for the first time in awhile completely content with where I need to be: back in the classroom.
My point is that ASC is a truly special experience and it is not something that you can truly comprehend until you are completely absent from it. I know that I will continue to take lessons from my year of service with me for many years to come. Thank you ASC. Thank you Father Drew Kirschman, Sean Agniel, and Pete Musso. Thank you Tim Wilmes, Andrew Kresyman, my St. Louis community, and the entirety of ASC 24.
It’s a great life to have been an ASC.