This is undoubtedly the most bittersweet of field reports.
As I revealed in May, I’m returning for a second year as YRNO’s Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA, starting today, and that’s tremendous. The summer is when most AmeriCorps terms begin, which means I’m about to make many new friends! But it also means other members are leaving, and while we may keep in touch, the camaraderie will never quite be the same.
No more shooting the breeze with the NCCC-bound Abby in the YRNO office, begging Sara to sing to me, escorting Fernie back to Deming in the wee hours, getting schooled by “Professor” Chen, goofing with the “lovely and talented” Erin or discussing girls (or lack thereof) with my roommate Chao. Others are gone or headed out too. All are destined for greatness, but I’ll miss them. One of the best things about AmeriCorps—one-year commitments—can also be one of the worst. #shipspass
Anyway, that’s enough bitter. Time for some more sweet. I actually spent a big chunk of the past month on vacation in New York. Highlights included hooping it up with my boys in Rye, attending a service at Times Square Church, lunches with friends in Rockefeller Center and at Bourbon Street Bar & Grille, bowling with my sister and nephews, and last but not least, a road trip with my brother and father to Pennsylvania for the Pocono 500. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure I clinched the craziest selfie contest when I took a picture of myself in the cockpit of an Indy car while my brother snapped a photo of me in the act! Multiple angle cray-cray, right? Let’s see Erin out-goof that! Maybe next year when the Indy cars come to New Orleans.
Even with all that Yankee fun, I was definitely jonesing to get back to VISTA life here, and I dove right in upon my return. YRNO was one of the hosts for our monthly VISTA service project, which meant I got to work alongside some of my peers for my own organization, as well as a few CPS staff members and a group of Young African Leaders spending six weeks at Tulane this summer. We painted at Carver Collegiate, but the coolest part was schmoozing (during yet another free lunch), especially with the CPS folks I don’t see that often. Later the same day, there was less chatting when I helped clean out a blighted house in Kenner with nine Tulane football and basketball players. As I mentioned in my last report, I do sneak in a bit of direct service when YRNO has student-athletes volunteering. The next morning, I joined fellow VISTAs Amy, Carol and Chao for my first ever swamp tour in La Place. The guide’s Cajun accent reminded me of my years in Eunice, and when he whipped out a baby alligator, we just had to get our picture taken with it. To close out the week, Fernie hosted a World Cup final party in his room where VISTAs old and new got together for lots of laughter and bonding. We welcomed Krishna, Beau, Griff and Adrian, who I guarantee will love the next 12 months! (And sorry about Argentina, Fernie. We’ll get ‘em next year. Or the year after? Oh, 2018? Ouch. Now I’m super sorry.)
Last Tuesday, YRNO Executive Director Will Stoudt and I had our first meeting with Gretchen Hirt and Veronica Ridgley of Gambel Communications, as we begin to formulate strategies for how best to use the $5,000 public relations contract we won in the Gambel Giveaway contest. The ideas were flying fast and furious, and I think we’re all excited to get started. Then on Friday, I gave my end of term presentation to the whole crowd of incoming and outgoing VISTAs, enjoyed another free lunch, and capped it off with a pool party at Tulane’s Reily Student Recreation Center!
And you know what else? Saints training camp opens in three days.