Sarah Staten is a St. Louis native who loves Cardinals baseball, beating everyone at board games, and her many, many sisters and nieces. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in May, Sarah began her two years of service with the Billiken Teacher Corps in St. Louis, Missouri.
What inspires you to do service?
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” –Erma Bombeck
When I think about all that I have been given and blessed with, I cannot help but feel called to give back to those who need it most, in whatever capacity that God allows me to. We all have different gifts and talents, and I want nothing more than to use what God has given me to love and serve others. In doing so, I know I am giving glory to God by putting to use the gifts He has given me. My parents have also played a huge role in encouraging me to give back. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” (Luke 12:48), as my parents continually remind me.
What is it like adjusting to living in community?
Overall, I love living in community, it is one of the best parts of the Billiken Teacher Corps. (BTC) through St. Louis University. At first it was a big adjustment to get used to the different personalities in the group. None of us were friends before, and jumping into a program like this, it was like living with strangers at first! It was awkward to get used to everyone’s quirks and pet peeves (like putting the toilet paper roll on a certain way…who knew that was a thing!). And adjusting to group responsibilities was hard, too. Everything you do now affects five other people, and not just yourself. But the more we talked, and had community nights, and bonded over summer classes, the more we grew to know, understand, and love each other. Initially, I struggled with accepting the different personalities, perspectives, and viewpoints of my other community members. How could we all be so different and still want to do the same program? Why couldn’t they agree with me? However, once I let go of that desire for control, the more easily I was able to come to love and appreciate each member of my community. Now I know each person’s quirks and mannerisms, when they are aggravated or when they are happy, but I am still continually learning more about each person. Relationships take time and effort, and patience is crucial when getting to know new people.
Another aspect of community life that is incredible is the support. It is so comforting to know that on a night when I am up late grading, someone else in the room next to me is doing the same thing. The solidarity in that makes the late nights, overbearing parents, failing students, and never-ending grading all the more bearable. Having people who know and understand what you are going through and what you are feeling is incredibly helpful. I also love coming home after a long day and having a community to share my stories with and to hear their stories as well.
What does “simple living” mean, and how is it different from what you are used to?
“Simple living”, in the context of the BTC, means living in a renovated convent with an 8×8 bedroom, sharing your living space with other outside service groups, living off of a teacher stipend, participating in weekly community chores, doing dishes without a dishwasher, finding (and sometimes killing) bugs throughout the convent, and walking up three flights of stairs to get to your bedroom, to name a few. While these are not terrible or initially shocking things, they are little things that I took for granted and did not realized make such a big difference. It is in these little challenges that I learn to be patient and tolerant. I have to remind myself of my blessings and remember not to complain. This simple living helps us as a community to appreciate what we do have and focus our time and energy on serving other and being present to one another.
|Sarah and the Billiken Teacher Corps community
To learn more about serving with the Billiken Teacher Corps, click here and here!