Alex Benson

Graduate of University of San Diego
Served in Hays, MT ‘16-17
Academic Support Specialist
St. Paul’s Mission Grade School

 

I served at St. Paul’s Mission Grade School as the tutor working with kindergarten through 6th graders. I was very grateful to be in a place where spirituality is valued highly. In Hays, the beauty and serenity of the surrounding prairie and the Little Rockies watching our backs was amazing. It was a blessing to be able to walk through the prairie and contemplate and say thanks. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn the ways of the people in the community. I was challenged to learn a new type of spirituality and ways to reach out to the Creator. As Sister Chris always said, “They have touched us and we have grown.”

 

Hays is a pretty isolated place, our grocery store was an hour and a half away, and during winter months, you can be locked in for days at a time. It was during these times in community that I would treasure the most. Just finding ways to be goofy and lighthearted in times where it was difficult. We would have to be creative to build community but we figured it out. Café Disco really took off one night causing all of us to goof around. Sometimes community just looked like a bunch of teachers recalling all the crazy things their students had done throughout that day and sharing in the joy of those crazy kids.

 

In a place like Hays, living simply was sort of part of the deal. We had our monthly grocery trips where we got what we needed for the month and what we didn’t get, we had to wait for the next trip. Once every couple weeks our house turned into a kombucha factory as one of my housemates took it upon themselves to find ways to have fun while living simply. It was challenging to be so far away and isolated from family and friends but thankfully my community was supportive and awesome and some of the weirdest cool people I’ve ever met.

 

This year stretched me, allowing me to struggle and challenge myself. There were times where I got home and crashed but, fortunately, I had a community to support me and lift me up and have fun with. I was in a town that welcomed me in and showed me their ways. And most of all I had the opportunity to meet and form relationships with the kids at Mission Grade School, who transformed us as we did our best to provide a good education and a safe place for them to be the whacky little kids they are.