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AmeriCorps Post-Mortem


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I finished my first AmeriCorps term this past Saturday, and I promised a reflection in my last post. I can't recall if I ever discussed my reasons for going into AmeriCorps here before, so let's recap.
During my senior year of college, my thoughts for the future included grad school and not a lot else. Long story short, I dropped the ball on things like taking the correct GRE test and it became apparent that I wasn't going to make the deadlines for grad school applications.
I did what any well balanced English major would do. I had a little melt down. Then I went and talked with my adviser, who mentioned that her eldest daughter had done a term of AmeriCorps before enrolling in law school.
Now, I admit, I was knee deep in what I like to call the Catch-22 of Service. My only real volunteer experience came from being required to serve for various classes. I was really bitter about this, because it seemed like being required to volunteer defeated the purpose. However, without requirement, it seemed very unlikely that I or any of my classmates would get out and volunteer.
However, AmeriCorps has the draw of being very vast. You can apply to serve in any number of capacities and industries.
I didn't come to this right away, though. At first I saw this as an opportunity to hang out at my alma mater for another year. Which, admittedly, is the best or most noble reason to apply, and it is probably for the best that I did not land the position at my campus. Instead, I lucked out and landed a job that fit more conveniently into my interests in education.
Here I am, an entire year after I accepted this job that was formatting to take shape as it went. I only had a vague idea of what it would entail, and so did everyone else.
It was an entire year of playing things by ear, and I actually enjoyed it a lot.
My year in AmeriCorps has redefined my thoughts on service. I think the best thing I have taken away from this year is a desire to be useful. If I could pick buzzword for my year, it would BE "useful." It is no longer enough for me to keep my head down and achieve my goals. That's all very well, but I am not the only person on the planet. Instead, I have discovered this desire to be useful in anything I do.
My VISTA year has also reaffirmed for me that education is definitely the career industry I should be in. I did not anticipate loving the eighth grade classroom, but I did, and I cannot wait to work exclusively in a junior high this year. While my ultimate goal of being a college professor hasn't changed, I now have passions in pre-college education that I fully intend on continuing forever. I also feel, in terms of the bigger picture of service, that education is the springboard for everything and anything. In education, I achieve my new primary goal of feeling useful.

Most people do not do more than one term of AmeriCorps. One of the other VISTAs at my site this year was very determined to land a "real job" after the end of his term, while another sought something similar that would be, perhaps, more political. For me, another AmeriCorps terms seems ideal. For one, I will be in a job that suits my interests even further while providing me an outlet to be useful. I am also going to be moving to the Twin Cities, which I have always loved and always dreamed about moving to. This is all very win-win to me.

In terms of anyone considering AmeriCorps, I would recommend checking it out. Look through the available positions and search through your interest clusters. For this secondary term, I applied primarily in the education and environmental clusters, but there is really something for everyone. Having said that, doing a year of AmeriCorps is not necessarily for everyone. VISTA and NCCC do not allow you to have outside jobs, but are also usually full time, year long positions. VISTA is usually office work and behind the scenes jobs, while NCCC is an intensive hands on ordeal. State and National allow outside jobs, but are usually part time and vary in length from a few months to about a year.

Anyway. I liked my AmeriCorps term. I liked my job, and I liked my coworkers. I liked my apartment. My only real issue was feeling isolated, as the other VISTAs at my site already had built in social circles. I think that sort of potential varies from site to site.

It feels weird now to have this little hiatus between terms. I mean, I slept in until 1 this afternoon. Ridiculous.

I'm hoping food posts will resume soon. I made this Moroccan Couscous for my family last night (no pictures, sorry!) and it was their first time eating couscous ever.
I'll be here at home for another week and a half or so before moving north. Hopefully things will settle down at that point.


I have fallen in love with couscous!

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