Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Evacuteer.org

My year of serving America is up! As I look back on the past year of work with Tulane, Americorps and evacuteer.org, I can’t help but pull on my incredibly long grey beard and feel very wise, very wise indeed. Here are a few things I wish I had known when I started my service:

  1. Lean on your fellow VISTAs. I lived here before starting my term, and had a great group of friends so I thought I didn’t need extra work friends and didn’t make much effort to see my fellow VISTAs for the first few months. Turns out, my friends were great but they didn’t know the unique struggles and challenges we face as VISTAs. When I started to realize that I wasn’t going to get through the year without new friends who knew what I was going through, things turned around. Going to Kajun’s with the other VISTAs, sitting in Deming playing Cassie’s card games, or just hanging around after Friday meetings was what got me through my year. So, don’t isolate yourself. Lean on your fellow VISTAs and let them know they can lean back.
  2. Be open.  Having the flexibility and openness to do different things than what I might have anticipated coming in to my term gave me the opportunity to challenge myself and discover new interests. As VISTAs, we can be asked to do things outside of our guidelines and while it can be easy to get taken advantage, there is opportunity to be found. Stubbornly sticking to your assignment isn’t necessarily the most beneficial for you in the long run (but know how to say no when you need to!).
  3. Find a good deal. Get food stamps right away (don’t wait like I did). Drink High Life. Find all the free food events around town you can and take home leftovers. We make nothing, so it’s okay to be cheap!

I am so happy to have completed my service and am excited to say that I will be staying on with my organization, in a part-time capacity to continue the work that I have done. This year has been wild to say the least. And it’s easy to look back on it with rose-tinted glasses. It was harder than that. It was grueling and stressful at times. I had days where I forgot why I was doing this in the first place. But the few bad days were outweighed by great accomplishments.

Finally, thanks to all my fellow VISTAs, old and new, great VISTA leaders Ben and Cassie and all the wonderful people I have met along the way!

– Emma Storm Herr, Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA, Evacuteer.Org

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

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