Fighting Poverty with Passion
April. April, 2015–Time is flying.
I am playing historian this month, reader. It’s time to look back upon the documented and undocumented incidents that have happened during my VISTA year. It is not a month for reminiscing, but it is a time to count one’s fortunate blessings, encounters, fill-in-your-favorite-word-for-these-things, etc. I am doing this work for APEX Youth Center, but I am thinking that divulging about APEX would only bring a rush of memories into my mind, not yours, reader.
I would like to share a particular aspect of my VISTA year with you, one worth sharing: my VISTA cohort. Each person in the AmeriCorps VISTA program has brought a particular joy into my life. Even those that I do not see as often – Ashna, Christian, and Adrian – I am sure your great work is shining through the communities you are serving. It is nice to know that good work can be done when you are unaware of its presence. To those who have had to leave our cohort early, Shang and the past VISTAs, thank you for leading the way.
However, it is important that I give credit where I believe credit is due. I have a strong dislike for leaving gratitude to ’til the end of time so bear with me as I give gratitude (a New Year’s Resolution of mine if you remember, reader) now rather than later.
I have absolute faith in my fellow VISTAs to do the good work that needs to be done, but I have seen good work performed in front of me before the 2014-15 VISTA year started. Griff fought for green changes around Tulane’s campus; Mwende has been questioning society and fighting for what is right since I was an undergraduate. Neal is on track for a career in medicine while developing a keen intuition for what a group of people need. Krishna is constantly promoting good work, and Olivia is always reading to further her intellectual prowess. All of the these people have worked on programs, burst through barriers, and come out on top. Mwende published a book, Griff has redesigned/reorganized Cowen’s website, Neal is working on a city-wide reading buddy program, and Krishna and Olivia are always promoting new events for their organizations – all of them doing a really good job to boot!
There are VISTAs that I did not have the pleasure of knowing while completing undergraduate studies. These fellow Tulanians have shown me that giving shows no bias across backgrounds or majors. John, Cait, Mary, Emily, Brianna, Merry, and Beau – Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your passion for service. I know that Mary could show me the ins-and-outs of so many legal forms that I am almost too afraid to ask her how much she knows. Cait gave me the opportunity to climb a fruit tree or two, a deed I was not allowed to perform as a child. Emily and Brianna are more likely than not unaware of how much their support and compliments have meant to me over this year. I still remember when Brianna thanked me after her event “Metamorphosis” and when Emily told me never to downplay the things that I do or have accomplished during a kickball game. John has been my partner in more projects than I thought I would accomplish this year. I owe him all of my thanks. Beau has been my support system throughout the entire process, my wall to bounce ideas off of, and a confidante when I just need to rant a little bit. He has been crucial to my VISTA year. Merry – She is a social media queen. Genuinely, these people are the real deal.
I am running out of words, but I owe a lot of personal growth to the following individuals: Sarah, Jack, Michael, Liz, Helen, Sheana, and Tom. These seven individuals came from a different world than from within my Tulane “bubble.” Lunch with Sheana about my future, talks in Tom’s and Jack’s room about anything and everything, Liz’s amazing eye for design and open, creative spirit, Michael’s varying views and really-bad-but-I-can’t-help-but-laugh jokes, and Helen’s and Sarah’s passions for the work that they do: I have been fortunate enough to say that I’ve witnessed a lot. I can imagine their future successes, and I hope you’ll get to witness them, too, reader.
Most of all, I have to thank Ms. Amy Biedermann, whose strong guidance yet forgiving nature allows for true growth in a what can be a turbulent atmosphere at times. Please meet up with Amy for coffee sometime, reader, because my words will fail to do her any justice. Email her, find her LinkedIn, do whatever — this woman is someone you have to know.
In the meantime, I am sure I will write hand-written “thank you” cards for each of these people because that’s what VISTA has taught me to do. 🙂