Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: City of New Orleans Office of the Mayor

MTV’s “The Real World” is currently filming in New Orleans. It’s the second time MTV has chosen to send eight strangers (showing my age, here, but I remember when it used to only be six strangers) to live in a mansion just off St. Charles Avenue and watch what happens when people stop being polite and start getting, well, “real.”
Stay tuned for the episode where – I’m not making this up – one member gets sick because a fellow housemate, er, urinates on his toothbrush. Welcome to the “real world,” indeed.
This past month represents my first stint in the REAL real world. Since graduating in December 2009, my real world has been decidingly less dramatic (and, thankfully, any instances of debauchery are not on film). What are the signs I’ve made it to the real world?

• I have my own business cards.
• One of the things I want most for my birthday (four days!) is something that organizes the business cards I keep getting from everyone else.
• In that same vein, I actually like “networking” now. I used to hate it and think of networking as nothing more than glorified schmoozing; now, I genuinely enjoy learning about other people’s line of work and thinking of ways we could make both of our jobs easier in the future.
• I instinctively wake up at 8am, even on the weekends.
• I worry about my clothes looking nice.

On the surface, this list may look, well, boring, but don’t let anyone fool you: the real world IS better than college. No tests looming over your head. No homework. In general, my life is a lot more stress free than it used to be. Now, granted, I don’t have to worry about mortgages and car payments and some of the other aspects of the REAL REAL real world, but so far, life as a 20-something young professional is pretty grand.
My time at City Hall has been rewarding thus far. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to meet people who have dedicated themselves to a career in public service, and I am confident in my ability to grow the VIGOR program. In the past month, I have been reaching out to a variety of different departments and offices looking for good fits for potential interns. I have also been in contact with various outside nonprofits that could potentially host large groups that are interested in volunteering in the City. I am also working toward stabilizing our program so that by the time my service is completed the process of interning or volunteering at City Hall will be more efficient and effective.
Life as a VISTA is also, as Dominica says, a “fun time.” We have potlucks and go out together and support everyone’s endeavors. Having a support group that doubles as a social circle is a huge plus of the program. Plus, I feel as though I’m always hearing about cool opportunities and things to get involved with, which makes my free time outside of work more enjoyable, too.
In short, maybe my first month in New Orleans hasn’t been eventful enough to make it on MTV’s “The Real World.” But, I’m happy to be here, and at the end of the day, no one is peeing on my toothbrush. That has to count for something. -Nick Solari, AmeriCorps VISTA

To learn more about the City of New Orleans Office of the Mayor VIGOR program, visit their website at: http://www.cityofno.com


About Tulane VISTA

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



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