Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Urban Research and Outreach/ Engagement Center

I am now into month three of my VISTA service; it is going by so fast and yet I feel like I have been here forever. The volume of projects is really starting to pick up, and we have also had a lot more community outreach work to do over the past month. These events have been really interesting and useful in helping us determine how UROC is seen by the community, how many people have heard of or use UROC and what we offer that can be of use to people. We learned what to highlight about UROC to interest people, for example telling them that we offer free computer trainings, entrepreneurship consultation and meeting space. People were also really interested in the Landscape Arboretum. It is fun to have a combination of outreach events as well as our usual projects because it gives us the opportunity to do more hands on outreach work and then bring back what we learn from those events to our ongoing projects in the office.

My role at UROC has become clearer now that I am in my third month of service, although I am not sure I could really describe it or define it. Maybe it is more true that really I’ve just become more comfortable with not completely understanding it and have come to appreciate better what boundaries I have. These boundaries have particularly been important with regards to what work I should and should not be taking on. For example, at the outreach events I have been to recently when people want information about something that is not within my work as a VISTA I know who to refer them to that can help. On the other hand some projects have come up that were not originally part of our VISTA year plan but have clearly fit into the parameters of service learning, and fit well with my skills so that I can hopefully help with them. When I first started the ambiguity of what actually would be my role was very evident and daunting, and now that ambiguity has become just part of my work. I have more than enough to work on daily and so the ambiguity is more of an overall aura and less of a pressing concern. It will be interesting to see at the end of the year how clear my sense of the work I have done over the last year is. I would guess that with hindsight some sense of clarity will appear.

 

-Cathy Harris, TNVNET AmeriCorps VISTA, Urban Research and Outreach/ Engagement Center, University of Minnesota

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

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