Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: New Orleans Outreach

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It has been said in many ways many times.  But these clichés are what I try my best to live by.  The amazing thing about Jesus is His unconditional grace and love – regardless.  And as His follower that is what I try to mimic in my own life.  As aggressive and direct as I am – it can be difficult to show my true intentions but I’ve been over and over that and we are who we are.  My personality is not an accident and God can and does use anyone to do great things.  He knows my heart.This is the basis of my daily pondering.  Especially today-which turned into a week which turned into a few weeks which turned into a month.  I have been stretching myself extremely thin between working, volunteering, and hiding from that annoying question “What are you gonna do with your life?” Blah, shut-up and don’t ask hard questions Self.  It doesn’t matter how many times it happens it will always be a challenge for me to hold my head up and continue working hard while dealing with people who look at you or your job as if it is not important (nevermind that your job alleviates a burden on theirs), facing that ongoing debate nomads often struggle with – of who your real friends are and how long will they be that way, missing people or missing the idea of missing people…and let’s not forget wanting to not move for a second or two.

This wound was all re-exposed with a simple question from my mentee when she found I was helping her get to Ghana and would not be going myself: “WHAT? Why are you doing all this for us then when you’re not even getting anything?  You could be like – doing fun stuff!  You could be hanging out with your friends, shopping – YOU COULD BE SLEEPING! You always say your sleepy.”  My reply was cheesy and too lame to be recorded and I don’t think I got the point across because I was indeed – sleepy.

But then last Friday finally comes.  The Baobab Leadership Initiative’s Silent Auction Gala.  All of us mentors, our students and the Baobab Directors worked crazy hard on this event yet I had to force myself to believe that it wouldn’t be a disaster.  I mean – if no one comes then no one bids and if no one bids then….yea.  But everyone came!  At least to me and my student leaders it was everyone.  The event was classy and entertaining and it brought in over $9,000!  Our work was not in vain – these “underprivileged” high schoolers are going to Ghana.  They will have the chance of a lifetime and they see now that they are worth something – a lot of something.  How is that for a pick-me-up? 

Laying in the relaxed end pose at the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center’s Community Yoga class (yea, I can name/place drop!) tonight, I began to reflect on my intentions and my reality.  The only thing I cared about last Friday was those students and what they deserve to get.  On a broader scale, the only thing I care about daily is God and the love that He has to show to the world.  I don’t know how I sometimes forget that right after I remember it.  It is time for me to return back to my center.  I need to refocus on my passions and let God’s love explode through me.  Maybe it won’t show up in sweetness and carefully chosen words that take the realness out of the situation, but it will be my heart.  And when people act negatively towards me and turn their noses down on me I won’t worry about it too much because it’s not really about me – or them.  I know that if I genuinely put someone else’s best interest before my own then much more is accomplished.  And maybe there is someone doing the same for me but if not that’s fine too.  I’ve got Jesus!

“Go confidently in the direction of your dream.” (yup – clichés are pretty great) -Victoria (Tori) Wilson, AmeriCorps VISTA Member

To learn more about Tori’s work with New Orleans Outreach, visit their website at: http://www.nooutreach.org

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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