The Observer

Learning Done for the Service of Others

Recent Fordham graduate Nick Endo discusses the lasting impact of his Jesuit education

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Learning Done for the Service of Others

Nick Endo, FCLC '16, reflected on his time as a Fordham student and the Jesuit values that he learned.

Nick Endo, FCLC '16, reflected on his time as a Fordham student and the Jesuit values that he learned.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CARMEN L. RECIO

Nick Endo, FCLC '16, reflected on his time as a Fordham student and the Jesuit values that he learned.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CARMEN L. RECIO

PHOTO COURTESY OF CARMEN L. RECIO

Nick Endo, FCLC '16, reflected on his time as a Fordham student and the Jesuit values that he learned.


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In 2011 Nick Endo, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’16, wrote a letter to his future self outlining his hopes and goals for the four years ahead of him. It was the fall of his freshman year at Fordham Lincoln Center. He had decided to go on a freshman retreat to Goshen, N.Y., to kickstart his college experience as an active member of the community. In the letter, he wrote about wanting to figure out his major, do well in classes, travel and attend as many Broadway shows as possible.

“Everything I wanted to do, I got to check off!” Endo said last week over a video call. He said he made many strong relationships through his involvement on campus. He reflected on how confident he was by the time he graduated. He still likes to write his thoughts down in a journal, keeping track of everything from daily events and intriguing conversations with friends to troubling feelings he can work out through writing. Not only does it help him process, but it also gives him the opportunity to feel grateful.

“I am who I am because of the education I was privileged enough to receive,” he said. Today, Endo is an academic and communications associate at Partnership Schools, a school management organization that is connected to the Archdiocese of New York.

Endo chose Fordham for his undergraduate education because of his strong Jesuit background. High school was the first time he understood “how God connected to everyday life.”

“I had a theater class that brought spirituality into the theater space. That was the first time I saw that … creating a musical was an act of prayer, a way of glorifying God. I learned that we shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best,” he recalled.

“I know it’s not a relevant part to everyone [who goes to] Fordham,” Endo said. “But I’m a big fan of Jesuits.” Tattooed on his upper arm is his favorite Jesuit tenet, “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam,” Latin for “For the greater glory of God.” This motto is something he lives by.

Because of his Jesuit background, Endo knew he wanted to do some kind of service project while at Fordham. His spring semester freshman year he signed up for Global Outreach (GO!) Ecuador, a project that landed him in Quito in The Working Boys’ Center (presently known as The Center for Working Families), an organization that empowers families in poverty with job training and classes. As a result of this program, more than 30,000 individuals have left poverty behind forever. Endo’s first immersion experience with Global Outreach was just the beginning of his future professional career. He knew he wanted to empower communities through teaching.

During his time in Fordham, Endo also studied abroad in El Salvador and Granada. “These experiences allowed me to remove myself from the privileged bubble I’m in … and shaped how I took on future experiences,” he said. Endo completed a total of three GO! projects, two in Ecuador and one in the Dominican Republic.

These service immersion trips were not just about seeing a new country and learning about an organization. Traveling with a Jesuit university made him think about how his actions were impacting the world. “What stayed with me from these trips was that what I learn is not as important as how I use it,” he said.

One example of this was Endo’s study abroad experience in El Salvador, a program deeply embedded in the Jesuit tenets in which he learned about simple living. As he sat through classes on history, politics and theology, in the back of his mind he knew he wasn’t just learning for the sake of learning. In his own words, it was “learning done for the service of others.”

After graduation, Endo took up University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J.’s suggestion of going to Micronesia to teach. Fascinated by the idea of going to live on a small island for a year, Endo became a teacher at the Jesuit Yap Catholic High School, which was founded in 2011. Yap is one of four island states in the Federated States of Micronesia with a population of 11,377 spread out over multiple rural villages. “You could drive across the island in one hour,” Endo said, still perplexed at the tiny community with a strong cultural and spiritual identity.

Yap Catholic High School is a college prep school that partners with the local community with the aid of volunteers like Endo. For 10 months he lived in the community and taught two religion courses. He also directed the school choir and organized masses and retreats. “The best service programs are ones that partner with the community and don’t fulfill the roles that could be served by members of the community. The ultimate goal is to not be needed in the future,” Endo said. In the case of Yap Catholic High School, the goal is to have returning students run the program in the future.

“Its difficult to strike a balance between the local culture and maintaining your own beliefs,” Endo said, reflecting on his multiple study abroad experiences. “You want to accompany your students as they grow and learn and empower their beliefs … but also be careful not to assert your personal beliefs.”

In 2017, Endo found his way back to El Salvador. He wanted to give back to the study abroad program he so admired from his junior year at Fordham. For an entire school year he worked as a resident assistant for both American students and Salvadorian students.

Even though Endo completed his freshman year list of to-dos, today he has plenty more to figure out for himself. “I see my vocation as the intersection of what you like doing, what you’re good at and what the world needs from you. I want to work with people. I love education. I’m trying to figure out what the world needs from me.” At his job, he supports the Partnership Schools superintendent with various projects that set the vision for a network of six Catholic schools. “There is no typical day,” he said. He manages the superintendent’s calendar, juggles her meetings, helps plan projects and organizes Professional Development days, among other things.

Endo exemplifies what it means to be an advocate for social change in small communities while remaining an integral part of the larger Jesuit community. He has left a legacy of service built on a deeply rooted Jesuit faith at Fordham. On his Facebook page the following quote is displayed:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God,

than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning…”

-Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ

When I inquired about the quote, Nick laughed. “I had forgotten about those!” He went on to explain how this one in particular summed up his faith. “[This quote] makes God pretty simple. God is love… It’s serving other people. I love the image of God as falling in love. It beautifully captures how simple and complex she is.”

A second quote references Loren Eiseley’s anecdote of a young man throwing starfish back into the ocean to save them. “You can’t possibly make a difference!” a man walking by exclaims, looking at the miles and miles of beach. The young man responds by picking up yet another starfish and throwing it into the ocean, and saying: “It made a difference for that one.”

To Endo, this quote is a reminder that his work in small communities matters. “I was on a really tiny island (Yap) that couldn’t be seen on a map… It was me working with about twenty-five students, but I knew [that] just being there and seeing them grow and improve that my work was important and meaningful. Like throwing the starfish back in the ocean. What I was doing mattered to these people.”

Endo had some advice for Fordham students: “Think of your vocation as an intersection of what you like, what you’re good at and what the world needs from you.” He realized the importance of navigating post-graduation life at his own pace. “You don’t need to go to graduate school at a certain age or start a career right after you graduate,” Endo continued. “It is okay to have an experience you need to have, even if it won’t push you forward in a specific career track.”

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