My name is Ronnie Townsend, I am 22 years old and a recent graduate of Information Technology (B.S.) from Mount Aloysius College. I volunteer on the Navajo Indian Reservation through Mercy Volunteer Corps, teaching autistic children and children with learning disabilities, in addition to being an IT specialist at Saint Michaels Association for Special Education. I work with an entire team of great individuals, and I have a small class size of about five students.
Every single day offers a unique set of challenges, while also being filled with many funny moments. I like to call my students gifted individuals; they have taught me patience, how to communicate on a deeper level, and how to find peace in any moment. Although I am only halfway done, I feel as though this has been so much more than a year of service so far, but I would like to call it a year of exchange. The Navajos have been beyond warm and welcoming to me and my team members, opening up their homes to us, and inviting us to cultural ceremonies. I have loved the aspect of being able to connect with Navajo culture on a deeper level while volunteering, it is truly eye opening.
I live with a community of two other volunteers, one of my roommates works in the therapy department as a therapy aid, and my other roommate works as the Adult Day Treatment Program Supervisor. When we first met one another back in August, we were all complete strangers that had just found out we would be living together. Our first couple of weeks were rocky, considering that we were settling into our new work places and getting to know one another.
We now look back on those moments and reflect on how much we’ve grown. We look forward to seeing what direction the rest of our year will take us in.
– Ronnie Townsend