Fighting Poverty with Passion
|“I’m halfway through my one-year AmeriCorps VISTA service. It’s been a good six months and I think, so far, my two benchmarks have been “the ability to learn” and “hope for the future.”
First, the ability to learn: I doubt if there’s a more hackneyed cliché than, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Yet, a phrase becomes a cliché usually because it has more than a grain of truth. A lot of my peers seek only comfort, familiarity and security…and that’s fine and not unnatural. Also, I find as I get older, the more I have to push myself into new experiences. But I’ve always felt strongly that continually opening myself up to new learning keeps me invested in life. Through my volunteer position as VISTA Leader at CPS/Tulane I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to learn many new things. In fact, after a 35-year career in mental health and human services management I’ve been “forced” to learn an entirely new professional field, e.g. pedagogy, academia, service learning. It’s been a struggle at times – as you grow older learning curves seem to get steeper – but learning at any age brings along with it other benefits: lessons in humility, personal satisfaction, an expanded world, self-discipline and new challenges, among others. And with every new lesson comes the realization of how little I know about the world and how much more there is to learn. So, this old dog (almost nine dog years, to be exact) is learning some new tricks here in New Orleans. (Oh, and I can also roll over, chase a Frisbee and beg, when necessary).
Secondly, like my stint with Peace Corps, my role in VISTA is giving me much-needed hope for the future. Why? Because I’ve had the good fortune of meeting dozens of dedicated, enthusiastic, smart, idealistic young people. Young people who are – for better or for worse – inheriting this world from my generation, but seem more than able to do the serious, difficult work to make it “a better place.” It’s uplifting for me and I’ll leave New Orleans more hopeful, with a lighter heart and a brighter outlook…not to mention the many things these young volunteers have taught me about life. It’s all about the learning.” -Jim Trombella, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader