Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

 

After volunteering with Green Light New Orleans last Friday, I have another perspective to view my VISTA year from.  Driving through the city in our small groups off 3-5, we replaced old incandescent light bulbs with new, energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL’s).

This experience (much like nearly all others, nowadays) made me reflect on the past ten months of my life, and my VISTA placements, as well as how they have taught me lessons I wouldn’t have expected to learn.

  • Working at the Latino Farmer’s Cooperative of Louisiana taught me several valuable things:
    • It also taught me that I’m (somehow) a better salesman in my faltering Spanish than I am in English, though this is possibly a result of the ‘pity sell.’  Results only relevant with cheesecakes.
    • I learned the importance of perseverance, but more importantly I learned when not to be stoic about situations, and how to stand up for myself.
    • I learned, possibly most importantly, that nothing forges a strong friendship faster than shared adversity.
  • Working with other VISTAs, I’ve learned more about different personalities and how they interact.
    • Through Ben’s training seminars I’ve come to appreciate the traditional Myers Briggs test (INTJ, all the way!), and I’ve been introduced to new methods of thinking about relationships such as the Leadership Compass, which has helped me to think about different relationships.
  • Working at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans has taught me much as well:
    • I’ve learned how to engage volunteers who didn’t want to be there, and how to provide more experiences for those who loved the work.
    • I’ve refreshed my knowledge about how to maintain a home, from simply replacing a pane of glass in a window to sheetrocking and installing laminate flooring.
    • I’ve also honed my grant writing skills to a more exact science, and seen how they should be properly used to augment an organization.
    • I’ve also seen more abstract things, such as how employees work harder and with more innovation if these things were positively encouraged.  Worker satisfaction and mutual respect go a long ways.

Overall, as I enter my last full month of VISTA service, I can see that I’ve been pretty lucky. Some things have gone wrong, others have been difficult, but everything has led me to this point.  As the end of my term (and the start of medical school) approach on the horizon, I can only feel glad that I took this year to give back to New Orleans.

 

-Brian Templet, Tulane CPS AmeriCorps VISTAYouth Rebuilding New Orleans

 

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

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