RE-THINK: Things the Doctor and His Companions Taught Me about Service

Welcome back to RE-THINK, a blog where our staff members will be sharing their thoughts and experiences working at the Br. David Darst Center. Today's post is from our new Communications Associate, Carly Cohen. In her post, she shares how her love of Doctor Who has prepared her to be a better Lasallian Volunteer.

By Carly Cohen

It has been over a month since I started my journey as a Lasallian Volunteer (LV), and I have already learned an invaluable amount of knowledge about myself, and what being part of a social justice initiative means, looks like and feels like. By no means can I understand fully what it takes to definitively stand for social change. In fact, I'm pretty sure I will be learning what that entails until the day that I die. However, I believe that I was given quite a few tips before I even fathomed becoming a LV or working with the Darst Center.

From where you ask?

From Doctor Who and his companions. Upon thinking about my service I realized that the beloved characters from the classic science fiction television series have taught me a lot about how to conduct myself in a volunteer at the Darst Center.

Companions and volunteers experience many of the same things. Both travel to new places, meeting new people/beings and cultures with the intention to learn and serve those who may need a helping hand. They say goodbye to people that we wish they had more time with and the people they get to know. They rejoice at the small victories, and weep for the setbacks and losses they experience. The main difference is that most volunteers have never ridden in a TARDIS…unfortunately.

In short, being a helpful and effective volunteer requires me to follow these simple rules of engagement - just like any good companion would:

  • Be open minded and ready for anything. I am going to be in a new place, with new situations and new challenges that may unfamiliar to my own. Whether it is a cultural norm of the community I am serving, or the customs of the Ood, I need to be able to adapt.

  • I should take my time to think about my intentions and their impact. Sometimes, when I try to help, the impact I make may not always match my intentions. These things take a lot of research, and communication. If I don’t invest time into considering the effects of my actions, then I may wind up like Vincent Van Gogh, who stabbed a blind and misunderstood Krafayis, who was just trying to make his way in a world where the odds were against him.

  • I must always remember that everyone is important.  Throughout all time (of at least 900 years) and space, the Doctor has never met someone who wasn’t important and neither will I.

  • Communication should always be the first step to resolving any conflict. As the good Doctor once screamed:

  • Remember that I am here to help but I can not solve all of the problems that my site addresses, let alone in the world. The fixing of problems cannot be done by one person. I can’t walk into situation with the same assumption as the Queen of Years, who thought she had to sing alone to maintain peace. A chorus, of those who want the same peace are behind you.

  • Never give up hope, or lose my faith in humanity. Things work out the way they should in the end. Or, as the Doctor says, “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.”

  • Try not to become jaded after setbacks or if we don’t accomplish all that we hope to with those we serve, as the Doctor told Amy:

  • Love often, because people come and go but what I do and the moments and memories I share with those that I meet always remain…unless I am Donna Nobel.

No, I am not crying… you’re crying.

  • Don’t forget to explore, and remember that there is always something to learn because where I am is “one corner… of one country, in one continent, on one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy that’s a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And there is so much, so much to see.”

  • Remember the pain I see, experience and feel from working with those that I serve is worth more than just the pain that I feel. Instead, I should transform it to keep going so that I can share the burdens of the community that I serve so that the load is lighter for all. It is easy to let the pain you experience, and complexity of the world swallow you. I have often wondered how to deal with that and remembered that when the Doctor was confronted with the same question, he said:

  • Finally, I should remember that being afraid, and unsure is okay.

These are the life lessons that I keep in my back pocket, with my sonic screw driver. I leave you with a question, and ask you to reflect upon this:

Who has inspired you, and given you tips during your service, in order to live out the Lasallian mission?

Thank you for reading. I hope you are all well, and ready to hop into tomorrow yelling: