Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

This has been a month of perspective for me, and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed it all.  I finalized my transition, and now I find myself working as Youth Rebuilding New Orleans’ first VISTA.  Working my way through orientation at another site and getting to know the staff has been a learning experience, as has all of my VISTA term.  Thankfully the staff here is welcoming and has open people who are always willing to provide helpful assistance when I’m looking for a task to pitch in and participate.

Though work is still work, I find that the day-to-day grind isn’t nearly as demanding; and for that I am thankful.  As I begin to buckle down this month to start studying for the MCAT in preparation for my entrance to Tulane Medical School in July, I find myself prioritizing my time more and more.  My reasonable work hours give way to reasonable free time, which I’m endeavoring to make the most of living in this city. My New Year’s resolutions have me taking time to venture out to local eateries to try new places and to familiarize myself with the city a bit more, which has so far worked well in exposing me to new environments and locales.

As we’ve finally turned the corner into 2012, I’m looking at the future with greater clarity.  My VISTA term is half over, and I find myself troubled on occasion, about several things.  I ask myself what I will have learned from this experience, what I’ll have gained, and what I should be taking away from giving twelve months of my life to this program.  The tangibles are easy to see: I made good friends, saw a side of the city I never would have in other circumstances, and I got to experience living in a situation over which I had very little control.  Of course when I stop to think about this experience, it’s clear that I’m not doing this for myself, regardless of how much I may gain from the experience.

It’s interesting to me to make a list of what I’ve learned so far from being a VISTA, and how it may apply to me in future.  I’ve learned (and am still learning) flexibility, and the importance of keeping attachments to plans at a minimum.  Though I’m on a steady work-schedule now, I know that things will not always be this way.  As my VISTA term continues, then as a Medical student, and later as a doctor, I will be at the mercy of my work.  I’m beginning to see that it’s better to go into a situation expecting to roll with the punches, instead of resisting because of what was initially planned.  I’ve also learned that it’s equally important to keep sufficient tethers to the rest of the world so that I don’t become disillusioned with what I do, and don’t lose touch with the more social aspects of my personality. My VISTA experience is allowing me to see all of this.

-Brian Templet, Tulane CPS AmeriCorps VISTA, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

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

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