Hello my loyal readers!
Its senior year of high school and little Ayisah is pondering the future. (ignore my terrible fashion in high school) Like most kids her age she is thinking of the future and what she is going to do come graduation time. Ideas flow through her head like community college, real college and just not doing anything at all. Then her parents and siblings remind her of that little program her sister and brother did called AmeriCorps. She remembers back to the times they did it in California and got to go to these amazing places like Hawaii & Alaska. She is not sure if that is her final chose but Ayisah applies to AmeriCorps and community college as her back up as a real four year just didn’t seem to fit her. After going through the application process and getting recommendations and being interviewed before she knew it was graduation time and little Ayisah had gotten in to AmeriCorps. She shipped out that October of 2010 and spend the next 10 months learning, growing & challenging herself while experiencing some highs and lows of life on the road as an independent women.
So yea that’s pretty much how my AmeriCorps application experience happened. Now you might be wondering what AmeriCorps actually is. AmeriCorps is a program where you do various community & national service programs. In side of AmeriCorps there are many different programs like Vista, State & National. Vista & State are kind of similar as you are able to do AmeriCorps from your state or city. National which is what I did is called AmeriCorps NCCC and is the most recommended for kids 18-24. It’s where you get to travel, meet new people and experience new things while doing good for others.
So How Did I Apply? Well what you have to do is go to AmeriCorps.gov and sign up then you pick NCCC as your form of AmeriCorps. After that you pick which term you want to be on as there are two different terms one that starts in October-August and one in February-November. Once you do all of this then you feel out a questioner and once you’re done an AmeriCorps rep will call you for a phone interview. They ask you the basic questions like why you wanna be in AmeriCorps and stuff like that. They then make you wait a few months to hear back from them but once they have their answer they will usually send you a letter letting you know wither or not you got in. It’s a pretty simple process.
After applying and let’s say you get in first thing you do is a happy dance. Then of course you decided what to take with you for the next 10 months of your life. Now I know that 10 months can seem like a long time away from home and you might be prone to pack pretty much everything you own including your kitchen sink. I advise you as having brought pretty much everything I own my first time is that it is the worst rooky mistake. Now in AmeriCorps especially NCCC they give you a red duffle bags to travel with and that is pretty much all you can take with you on trips not including blankets, computers and such. I will get into this more later but I just advice you not bring so much with you maybe a large suit case but not too large.
So What Should I Bring on this Journey? Well I’d say bring few things but things you can layer like a few summer/spring outfits, a few winter/fall outfits and stuff you can layer. About 80% of the time you are there you will be wearing your AmeriCorps uniform and boots so except for CTI you don’t really have time to wear regular clothing. I’ll get into clothing more later but a good workout outfit and workout shoes are very important. So other items that I think are important for you to bring with you are: a good water bottle (although they give you one), a rain coat, hats, sunglasses, a good camera or phone with a good camera, laptop, iPod or iPhone with music & head phones for long van rides, blanket, snacks and cash for CTI, socks, books to read, a notebook or journal to write down your thoughts and actually keep up with it among other things. Now during CTI you will be in whatever city your campus is in for a month before going on your first spike and for me I got a winter break so my first spike was only a month and a half. That being said I was able to get more stuff from home once I got the lay of the land.
So you’re all packed up and ready to ship of to your campus which in NCCC there are 5 different ones. One in Denver which was my campus and the head of the Southwest Region, Sacramento which is the head of the Western Region, Vicksburg, MS which is the head of the Southern Region, Vinton, IA which is the head of the Midwest Region and Baltimore, MD which the head of the Eastern region. Now don’t cry lol ok you can cry a little your parents probably will just like my dad who got a little teary eyed before I boarded my plane for my first venture on my own. Anyway you’ve boarded the plane and there is no looking back so get excited for the adventure of a life time.
You’ve arrived safely to your city and if it was like mine you will have people like team leaders meeting you at the airport to direct you to the bus which will take you to your campus. Now how they worked it once we gave our team leaders our luggage they gave us a ribbon and told us which unit we would be on for the 10 months. In the Denver Campus we have four different units, water which was mine, earth, fire and sun. These units will help us during CTI and on our spikes when we split up into different teams. Once you get to your campus they usually give you a key to your room and you meet your roommate which you will share a room with during CTI & during transition weeks. Now in the Denver Campus we were staying in dorms at an old university so we had a room with two beds one for you and one for your roommate with a mini fridge (which is usually gross), a sink to brush your teeth or wash your hands, a closet with a mirror on the outside and a desk.
Ok so you’re at campus, you’ve meet your roommate and unpacked now what? This would be the time that you get your first debrief by the head of your region on basically why you’re there, what you will be doing and a bunch of other stuff on like your character and changing lives. The next day you will discover your food situation. In the Denver Campus we had on campus cafeteria with what was the worst food really. A lot of the time people would go across the street to the Little Caesars pizza or Chinese (which was no better lol). But you get 3 meals a day at the Cafeteria unless you were going on a trip then you got packed lunches which were a little better.
*Story Time* So the girls I met when I first got to AmeriCorps who lived right next door to me named Anne & Bronte were really nice. Bronte when I first told her my name said I’m not going to remember this it so she gave me the nick name Ice. At first this was just our little thing until we got on a team together and she started calling me Ice then everyone in AmeriCorps started calling me Ice. It was kind of cool as I’ve never really had a nick name growing up. *end story*
So I know I keep mentioning this thing called CTI but what does that mean? Well CTI is short for basically Corp Member Training. For the first month that you get to AmeriCorps you have to go through training before you go out and start doing projects. This training consists of learning how to use various tools, how to work on a team, sensitivity training, diversity training, CPR, oh and you have to take a drug test (as you can’t do drugs while in the A) among other things. So I’ll admit it’s kind of boring and annoying but some of it looking back was actually useful. Another thing that happens during CTI is you become acquainted with life on a team. Now in Denver we had 7 team leaders on the water unit and basically all through out that month we are on each team leader’s team with different people who are on water unit for about 2-3 days. It’s to give us a sense of how each team leader operates and to put us with different people who could potentially be our permeant team members.
*Story Time*: CTI for me was the best. At first it was a little scary being away from home with all new people you don’t know very well but after a few days it starts to get easier once you’ve make a few friends. I ended up making a friend my very first day who now is like a sister to me who lived right next door to my dorm room. I also made friends from my very first CTI team and some of us are close still but not all sadly but for that month they were the best people to hang out with and watch movies with and just know I had a group to be friends with. They were my Ameri-family. (oh something else you start to notice is that everyone you meet after a while will start to call everything their Ameri-something) Other things that happened during CTI were: a talent show, a big game of bowling, rock climbing, exploring downtown Denver, going to 4Gs (which I will talk about later), flag football which I ended up spraining my ankle during and missing Halloween and a lot of fun and just enjoying my independence. *end story time*
Another thing that most campus do is something called ISP. What is that AmeriCorps ESPN? No no although that be cool lol. ISP is this volunteer thing (which really more volunteering on top of all of the service we do) where we all have to do extra volunteering during our service. We have to go out independently or with a group and find ISPs to go and volunteer at. They can be volunteering at an animal shelter, helping at a sports event, planting trees and things like that. I think you had to get up to like 80 hours or something throughout all of AmeriCorps.
*Story Time again*: I did so many different things for my ISP. A few that come to mind are: helping at a community wrestling match, helping at an animal shelter twice, helping at a pet adoption at Petco, cleaning from top to bottom a Ronald McDonald play house among other places. Some of them were annoying but some were kind of fun and I kind of wanna get back out there and volunteer more in my spare time.* End story*
Oh I almost forgot to talk about the fitness part of it all the PT test. Now the PT test is simple you have to do a serious of pushups and run a mile in a certain time. I will admit especially if you are not a fitness girl that the PT test are hard. It was really hard for me since I was in Denver and my breathing was already shallow being so high up in altitude and we had to run up hill. Plus to be honest I never really took the test serious anyway but you totally should. You had to do these PT test every time you get back to campus for transition week.
Ok so the most important thing that you do during CTI is get tested to become a van driver. So in AmeriCorps the TLs and corps members can if they choose to take the driving test to become a driver so when we go on trips we can use the government vans and trucks. Now even if you chose not to become a driver you had to play a part in taking care of the van. During CTI you learn how to change a tire, pump gas, and you also have to something called ATD or the assistant to the driver. As an assistant to the driver you are responsible to give the driver directions, stay awake and keep the driver awake, you get to pick your music to listen to, and you have to help the driver back out of spaces.
*Story Time* I hate ATDing! *end story*
Before you leave for your first spike you have a CTI completion ceremony where you get special certificates, sing the AmeriCorps anthem and in our cause we listened to Kevin Rummery one of our Unit Leaders sing his song Light House.
Ok I think I have talked about CTI and the beginnings of AmeriCorps enough now time to talk about the meat and potatoes of doing AmeriCorps going on the spikes aka the travel part. So once CTI is over you get put on your final team which ends up being the team you spend 75% of AmeriCorps with. The way we ended up finding out our team and team leader was by going on a scavenger hunt and finding all the pieces until we put them all together and ended up with our team. Most teams are between 8-12 people which mine got the latter half. Any way so now you have your brand new team what’s next? Well you find out what your first spike will be, where you’re going and what you will be doing.
Now what is a spike? A spike is the national service projects that you go on. On a team you pile into your big white van with all your red bags and tools and go to your housing and project site (unless you’re a local team). Usually you stay on spike for about one and a half to two and a half months, stay in whatever state you’re in and work. AmeriCorps is 10 months so to split up the months we have four spike rounds. One of those rounds (at least for my campus) was a shuffle round. This means that your whole unite switches teams for a whole round. Like for us Water Unit switched its teams and I went from Water 7 to Water 1 Shuffle team. Once the spike round is over usually you travel back to your home campus and for a week you do debriefs and prepare for your next trip. This week is called transition week and basically it can be a great week. So when you get back from your spike you basically have to do a debrief of who you helped, what you did and how you felt about the experience of it all and do it in front of your unit leader. Now your unit leader is like the team leader of your unit but oversees the whole unit and all the teams. Debriefs can be a little scary but to be honest their not too bad. The rest of transition week is basically a training or two but mostly finding out your next spike, packing and enjoying the little time you have with people who are not on your team.
*Story time* Debriefs were so scary for me. First off I am not a public speaker and on top of that I have processing issues so I can remember things and really try but once I get up to say them only remember half of it. Plus I was not a public speaker and I didn’t feel confident enough. *end story*
Transition week can also be a mini CTI during the 10 months if need be. Ok so I told you what a spike was but what do you actually do on one? Well depending on what organization you are working with you can do many different things.
*Story time* so during my four rounds I was in many different places doing many different things. My first round was in McAllen, TX on the boarder of Texas & Mexico where we build houses for hurricane victims. My second round was in Little Rock, AK where we worked at a Children’s Hospital for terminally ill kids. Third round was in Texas again this time San Antonio where we worked to restore a living land museum & our last round was in two places. Starting in Denver we worked with the Denver Mountain Parks doing beautification of the parks for a few weeks before being deployed to Joplin, MO when the big tornado of 2011 hit. We were in Joplin for about a month (which I will go in detail about later) and then we went back to DMP and worked with them for the last month building a fence. *end story*
Often times this is how are days would go Monday-Friday: Wake up, make lunch & eat breakfast then leave to go to your spike project. You work all day with a lunch break in-between and then around 5 (or whenever your project day ended) you would go home and then do some PT and cook dinner before showering and going to bed. The weekends a lot of the time where free for all unless you had to do an ISP or had to do a special project. Now how cooking went for dinner was you got 2.50 per person per week and so how my team did it was we paired up and do different cooking shifts each day. Yea to say that a lot of the food we had to eat was gross was an understatement but you can’t blame them when we only could afford Walmart food most of the time. Spike housing also varied from project to project and could be really nice to not so nice but that’s what you sign up for.
*Story Time* Our spike housing for the most part wasn’t terrible but it could have been better. Round one housing we stayed in two different churches the first church the girls had to stay in a closed off area where we put up cots and sleep. The boys had to sleep in what was their exercise room but they did a huge kitchen which was awesome. One downfall of staying in this church was that they didn’t have a shower so we had to use these showers that were out in this trailer in the back of the church. It was weird to say the least. The second church was better as there were actually rooms for people to stay in but we still had to use cots. The other good part is there was a basketball court, places to run and it was closer to the small downtown that there was. The downfall again was the showers as they were in the community bathroom and people from the community would sometimes use the bathroom when people where showering. #embarrassing Round two’s housing was a small step up but not much. So for our second round we stayed in an apartment. Girls on the right, guys on the left and our TL lived in the apartment with the kitchen. I think these rank as a 3 for the best spike house. First off I had to sleep in the room that used to be the kitchen for that apartment so it had this weird curtain and no door. Anyway my round three housing was the best of all my housing the whole time. So for that round we ended up switching teams (which I will go into detail later) and so with my shuffle team we stayed in this super nice apartments with again girls on the right, guys on the left and a few of our teammates lived down stairs. It was so nice definitely my favorite housing. Now round four I had like five different housings due to how many different places we ended up. First we were at DMP which we stayed in a camp there. Then when we went to Joplin we first stayed in the gym of Missouri State, then we had to move to a church in town and then we moved again to the gym of the local high school. After we got back from Joplin we stayed we went back to staying in our dorms. The last round was a lot but we got through it. *end story*
Ok so know that I’ve gotten through all the vital parts of AmeriCorps here is my actual experience by CTI, Round One, Transition Week One, Round Two, Transition Week Two, Round Three, Transition Week Three, Round Four & our last Transition Week + Graduation.
*CTI* I already told you mostly what I did during CTI but I’ll go into more detail. So one thing that I did during CTI that was a big thing was spraining my ankle. I hated this as I was stuck up in my room for a week and a half during the second half of CTI. What happened was we were playing a game of capture the flag which I suck at by the way but anyway I go to get someone’s flag who was trying to get my flag and we are running by this group of rocks and I tripped over the rocks and bam. You know the worst part of the whole thing was that my dorm room was all the way at the 3rd floor of the college and at the time the elevator was broken. Some of my friends had to carry me up three flights of stairs. Bless Ashleigh, Patrick and the others who helped me up the stairs that day + brought me food and stuff. In spraining my ankle I also ended up missing Halloween and what I hear was a really fun night from what I saw on FB and stuff. Um other fun things where just hanging with my Ameri-family and just getting acclimated to the world of AmeriCorps. We went to Red Rocks Amp theater and went rock climbing there as well as going rock climbing at a rock climbing place (which I couldn’t participate in) going bowling and having the Water Unit Field Day. Oh and of course the AmeriCorps talent show which was a lot of fun yet crazy at times like when one guy got on stage put on some dubstep music and proceeded to make a sandwich lol. It was great though.
*Round 1* So like I said before round one was in McAllen, TX right next to the border of Mexico. One of the best things that happened during this round I would have to say would have to be Thanksgiving. Now this was mine and a lot of my teammates first Thanksgiving away from home and it was the best. Karly our team leader’s parents came to town to visit her and helped us cook up this really amazing Thanksgiving meal and it was delicious. We all helped cook and we all took really cute team pictures and got dressed all nice it was great. After dinner and dessert we were invited to Karly’s parent’s nice hotel in town and we got to go swimming and hang out. That was really nice of them but the best part of the night came after we left their hotel. Karly stayed the night at her parent’s hotel to hang out with them so while she was away the team did play lol. Once we left the hotel we decided to be bad and go to a bar. Now one thing about AmeriCorps you will learn is that you can’t take the government van to a place that sales alcohol (unless a restaurant) and you can’t drink or have alcohol in the van or in your AmeriCorps uniform. We broke that rule a little bit by driving to a bar in the van. (we didn’t have any other form of transportation) Anyway what I think made this night so much fun was seeing my teammates get super drunk and do the most hilarious things. Also this was a time when my team actually got along which would not last long. Another time that was a lot of fun was going to get hookah with the team and going to the movies to see Harry Potter DH Part 1. Being at the boarder was fun too as we got to check out the actual border and hang out with the border police who fake arrested some of us lol. We also had some fun ISPs like when we went to this holiday festival and did the chicken dance, learned a song about the chupacobra and took crazy pictures. The other cool things we did were on the way to and from McAllen. One was staying in this really nice hotel on the way there, another was visiting San Antonio on the way back, doing a secret Santa for the holidays and watching my teammate Cole do the 72 oz. steak challenge. The last one was the highlight of the whole round. Basically Cole had to eat shrimp, a baked potato, salad + a roll and a 72 oz. steak in an hour. It was a sight to behold and sadly Cole did not finish it and ended up throwing up. This round I would have to say was my second favorite round of my whole AmeriCorps experience and where I feel I made the most impact. Helping this one family who the mom who had 3 kids two girls & a boy and her husband left her and when the hurricane hit it ruined her house. What sucked the most is that FEMA gave her like $500 to fix her house and she barely had enough money to send her kids to school. That was when we came in and helped fix her house, got them some Christmas gifts and a small tree. She was so thankful she said we cared more about her then her husband.
*Transition Week 1* After getting back from winter break we came back to our first transition week. Now I don’t remember much about this first transition week but a few things. One was going to my first burlesque show which was so much fun. A few of my team members and some friends I had made during CTI came along and we took the train to the show. If you don’t know burlesque is kind of like a variety show with comedy, sometimes singing and a little stripping. Now this stripping is classier then normal stripping as they have tassels and underwear over their important parts. The best part of the night was when we made Robert my gay teammate go up and dance with some of the dancers. It was hilarious. This was a super fun night. Other things that happened during this transition week was going to 4Gs for the first time (which I’ll talk about 4Gs later) and watching people freak out over snow. Some people who came from warmer climates had never seen snow before and it was so much fun watching them freak out over it lol.
*Round 2* Disclaimer round two was fun to a point but was also when a lot of drama happened between people on my team. At first my team was still riding the high of our first round and it was great. This round we were in Little Rock, AK and working at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Some highlights of this round were going inside a helicopter, meeting Bill Clinton, helping at a Doctor Suese event at the Bill Clinton Museum, and doing ISP at the Little Rock Zoo and at a MLK event where half my team got picked to do a play on the Civil Rights Movement (they got to play the racist white people lol). Other highlights of this round where eating some of the best pizza I have ever eatin, having a Oscar watching party, visiting downtown Little Rock which was walking distance from our apartment building, and watching super bowl 2011. Another thing that could be funny at times and super annoying at others was when my team got members got drunk. Since I was underage and you can’t drink in spike housing me and a few of my other teammates where left out while everyone was out having fun so if I was in a good mood then when they got back from drinking and where super drunk it was kind of fun but if I was tired and they would come back drunk it was so annoying. It was the most fun when they came back hungry and would come to the girl’s apartment after getting food and watch movies and sing. That was the best. Of course with the good has to come the bad. Now when you work with a lot of kids especially those with terminal illnesses you are bound to get sick and sick we did. Almost every person on my team got sick at least once which sucked because when one person was sick it spread like wildfire till the next person was sick and the next. Other suckish things during this round was my team’s attitude toward each other, my TL’s attitude toward us & just how we were just a hot mess. It got so bad at one point during this round that it made me start to hate AmeriCorps a lot. By the time we came back from this round I was ready to pack up and go home. It was awful all around to the point that one of my teammates ended up being asked to leave AmeriCorps. My team leader even made us go on team building dates with people on our team and for me it wasn’t terrible mostly because I got people I liked anyway. But it was just like no one respected anyone else and it just was crazy. As far as the actual work we did this round it so rewarding. The kids I got to hang out with were so cute yet were going through such hard times dealing with cancer and other life threating illnesses. One girl even wanted to have my number to keep in touch with me and invite me to her birthday party. What was said about that is that we couldn’t keep in touch with any of the kids because we didn’t know if they would die. The most sad story of all that I heard while there was when a father came in with his kids after just being in a car accident where his wife got killed and while he is telling the nurse this the kids are like mom died? It was so sad. Oh I forgot to mention that on the way to Little Rock one of my teammates was driving and it was snowing really badly and she almost crashed into a truck in front of us which was pretty scary.
*Transition Week 2* Once round 2 was over we went back to Denver and by that time I was over my team and team leader that I was super ready for a change or I was too close to leaving AmeriCorps. Best things about this transition week were I had my first beer which by the way was a PBR and was so nasty, parting at 4Gs for the first time, had a BBQ on campus and got assigned to our next team and project. Before AmeriCorps I was kind of a prude when it came to alcohol and such to the point where I would quote DARE and say I’m never doing drugs or alcohol. That all changed after I ended up on a team with kids most of them older than me and I wouldn’t say I was pressured into drinking per say but it was a small factor in why I did but also I was trying to do stuff I wouldn’t do while I was at home. It also helped me cope with the fact that my team was falling apart. (not that I drank that much). In AmeriCorps there where quite a few kids that were between 18-20 and couldn’t actually go out and buy drinks so this is where 4Gs came into play. 4Gs was this Mexican restaurant with a bar across the street from our dorms that because it was a restaurant under agers where allowed in and the older kids would just buy us drinks. Of course these drinks where not the highest quality but hey when you have like no money what can you expect. Drinks I’ve had at 4Gs: PBR, Cranberry & vodka, margarita, whisky shots, other kinds of beers and other drinks. Other things we did at 4Gs while drinking was turn the restaurant part into a dance floor. That part was so much fun even sober I had a lot of fun dancing and getting turnt up. They had a jute box which played all different kinds of songs which we played most of the time unless we were having a party which we had our resident DJ hook us up with some toons. At this point we were at the half way point of AmeriCorps so they decided to through us a BBQ as a congrats which was a nice change from spike food and Cafeteria food in Denver. Ok so round two was over and our next round was our shuffle round. For my shuffle team I got the best TL and team and it was awesome.
*Round 3- Shuffle Round* Round three was our shuffle time and for my shuffle project I ended up back in Texas in San Antonio doing land restoration for a living land museum. The best of this round was getting a new team for a couple months, spring break in South Padre Island, going night swimming, night fishing, camping, watching a pigs head get roosted, attending a San Antonio pow wow, checking out the San Antonio festival, eating the hugest piece of pizza, watching my teammate do this crazy burger challenge and going to my first ever basketball game to see the spurs play. First off this was the best round of all of AmeriCorps period! Reason being was that everyone on my team got along, my TL believed in us and we all acted our age. It was really nice to the point that I never wanted it to end. Another huge highlight of this round was going to South Padre Island for spring break. A this is really beautiful island B it was just so much fun. So when we first got there we had to wait a night until my teammate Matt’s friend was able to let us use his apartment to stay for the week so we ended up sleep on the beach which was a lot of fun. Then one of the nights we went out to eat and Matt ordered me and one of the project host kid a drink to share and later that night we went night swimming which was also a lot of fun. We did other various activates during the time too which were a lot of fun. Oh and the anthem of my team was the terrible song Friday by Rebecca Black which was like a joke to us. Another cool thing we did during this round was go to a country western club and I square danced and stuff which actually kind of fun. Now the one thing that was kind of suckish during this round if there could be on was when we weren’t sure if AmeriCorps was going to get refunded that year and we would have to go home. Luckily we ended up being safe and not going home. When it came to our actual project the best thing was getting to use cool tools and use the tool sharpener and the wood chipper. Also getting to hang out with the cows and ride the chuck wagon were a lot of fun.
*Transition Week 3* We made it to the third transition week. So this transition week was I think the most fun out of all of them as we had our version of a homecoming. Because we had just came back from our shuffle teams and where going back to our original teams which I regretted but anyway that was when some of the water unit guys decided to have a homecoming party at 4Gs. One of my teammates Ronnie from my original team was the resident AmeriCorps DJ so whenever we had a party we went to him. He went by the DJ name DJ Fat Ron. That was so much fun kids dressed up really crazy and got really drunk but it was the most fun party we had in AmeriCorps. It was the first time I really got to party with my shuffle team and drink which was fun. I can’t really remember what else we did during this transition week but it was fun anyway.
*Round 4* The last round of AmeriCorps. So the first two weeks of this round were spend working with DMP. Then for a month we were in Joplin and the last month we were back working with DMPs. Best parts of this round even though this had to be our most stressful round of all: going exploring in a cave, swinging over a some big mountains, helping in Joplin, sneaking in to see Obama speak about Joplin, going roller skating, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings with my girls. The things that were super embarrassing during this round: getting my first kiss, getting caught in a small tornado and trying to out run it and braking a window to a govt. van, getting reprimanded like little kids by our Unit Leaders of NCCC in front of other AmeriCorps programs and taking a drug test on an empty stomach and throwing up. Now I’ll talk about the embarrassing things first as there the most fun to talk about. So to start off I had my first kiss this round. We were in the kitchen of our spike house and me and some teammates where talking about first kisses and I mentioned I never had my first kiss and this guy on my team who we were cool decided to take it upon himself to give me my first kiss and kissed me. It only lasted a few seconds and was kind of weird but not terrible. Second embarrassing thing which was actually really fun if you know the situation. So take me and my friend Robert who is just this funny crazy guy and while we were in Joplin one of our duties was for people to take turns watching over our camp at night. It was Robert and my turn and we were stuck there with the EMT guy and this other crazy guy. At one point during the night a mini tornado comes towards our camp so the guys we were with end up leaving us to go chase it. So Robert and I are scared out of our minds so Robert jumps in the driver side of the govt van trying to get us to safety but we failed so we called the head AmeriCorps lady to come save us. While we were waiting for her to come we tried to roll up the windows of the govie but the battery went out so we had to put black trash bags in the windows so the van wouldn’t get wet inside and it had to get towed away. It was really hilarious at the time. Now the really good parts. I’ve never been in a cave but it was actually a lot of fun to explore and quite beautiful. I also have a fear of heights and do to that I refuse to do zip lines or anything really high but this time I took a risk and got on this really big swing and went over a landscape of mountains. It was surprisingly a lot of fun.
Joplin. Getting deployed to Joplin was a privilege many teams didn’t get and it had its up sides and down. My team was deployed to come and help with another Water Unit team and we got to Joplin within 72 hours of the tornado hitting. When we first got there things were crazy and we had to pick up and help in any way we could. During our time there different people got to do different tasks like helping on the ground cleaning up debris and other elements with volunteers, helping in the call center, data entry, search & recue, registration, working in the warehouse and more. My job was helping register volunteers to help do other jobs. The amazing thing about Joplin is you had people coming from all over the country and world coming to help with the cleanup effort in any way they could. It really was amazing. I being that I was stuck at the university doing registration I barely got to see a lot of the damage that happened but what I did see was so devastating. A highlight of my time in Joplin was sneaking in to see Obama speak. So Robert, myself and another girl who was in NCCC with us Miranda took it upon ourselves once we found out Obama was speaking in Joplin to find a way to sneak in. Technically that day we were supposed to be working but needless to say we found a way in anyway. During the first two weeks before her team left Miranda was so awesome to hang out at the registration table. Now during our time in Joplin other AmeriCorps programs and Conservation Corps came to help as well so we got to see how different programs where run. Hanging out with all the different programs was fun too we got to go roller skating with them and other fun stuff. Like most teams that came to Joplin our time was limited to one month and other teams came in to take our place.
Once we got back from Joplin we ended up going to back to helping at DMPs and staying on campus in our dorms. One thing that changed during this last half of our round was that our TL Karly got asked to take over the other water team we went to Joplin with as their TL was taking a stress leave. So our team was left leaderless so some of the office TLs filed in for a week until they got busy again and we were again leaderless. But thanks to the awesome leadership of our assistant TL Anna who stepped up and really became the leader we needed at the time. I owe a whole lot of gratitude to Anna during this time as my team were not the easiest to deal with at the time but she did a fantastic job. Highlights of this half of fourth round: hangin with the basin and getting to use cool tools. Embarrassing moments: getting drunk (or super tipsy) for my first time. Not so fun moments: watching my team act like 2 year olds. So my most embarrassing moment of this round was getting super tipsy at my teammate Cole’s party for finding a job. Finding a job after AmeriCorps is no easy task and their job people there are not really all that helpful. So when we found out Cole got a job we decided to go out and celebrate him. We ended up going to this bar/restaurant (not 4Gs) called Longshots which was another AmeriCorps hotspot. We go over there after work & dinner that day and things pursue. Some of my teammates buy a pitcher of beer and I guess being my first real times drinking I didn’t know I was kind of a light weight in ways (all though I had like 4 or 5 cups of beer). But I think what really annoyed me about this night was that right when I was starting to feel it and my song came on (which at the time was Ice Ice Baby) and was about to turn up some of my teammates where like lets go. Messing up my night but I think what really messed up my night was when we were walking back to campus and I start crying because I think the reason our team is having all these problems is my fault. It was terrible my teammate Meghan tried to get me to eat some bread so I won’t have a hangover and drink water and then Cole helped me get to bed. Luckily the next day I didn’t have a hangover and was able to go to work I just had to drink a lot of water that day.
*Transition Week 4 and our last one* We have made it to our last transition week. This transition week I think was pretty special as it was the last one. During this one we mostly had a lot of parties. We had the part that AmeriCorps put on which was like this fancy dinner and awards. Then we had our last talent show where all the TLs did this song but this talent show was not as great as the first one. Anyway we also had our version of prom at 4Gs which was also a lot of fun. But I think the biggest that that happened to me during this transition week was getting hit by a car. Robert, myself and a few other people walked to the local movie theater to go see Harry Potter DH Part 2. On the way back I was crossing the street to get to the side that our dorms where on. Yes I’ll admit I was j walking and yes I’ll say I wasn’t paying that much attention to where I was going when a car didn’t see me and smack. Now the funny or not so funny thing about this is when I got up thankfully with only a few bruises I went to confront the lady who hit me and she was like oh I’m so sorry I was looking at my baby in the back not paying attention. The funny part was there was no baby in the back seat. I can’t remember what else we did during this transition week but I know it was fun.
*Graduation night + Graduation* After a long 10 months of learning, growing and changing it was all coming to an end. So in typical AmeriCorps fashion we had an all-out party where we went crazy for our very last night. It was one of the most fun nights of all we started the night off around 10 or 11 and went until like 3 or 4 in the morning. My TL bought our team whisky shots and the drinks were flowing and it was just the best. We just danced the night away.
The next day everyone was so tired but it was worth it. Now as far as graduation it really wasn’t that eventful as I was so annoyed with my team and just a little home sick at the time that I was ready for AmeriCorps to be over. We had people speak, and awards were givin to everyone then Kevin Rummery sang Light House for the last time and it was really great. We even watched our AmeriCorps video of all the accomplishments me did during our service which was nice. It was a nice way to end everything. After that we all went around and took pictures, gave hugs and said our good buys before all going our separate ways.
Well that’s a wrap. This was my AmeriCorps experience mixed with tips and tricks I learned along the way. I am proud I got to serve in the A and be a part of something amazing. Helping all the people I got to help was incredible and life changing and makes me value every day and all the beautiful things I am afforded in my life. This also helped me learn and grow as person and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without the experience so thank you AmeriCorps you changed my life! The only thing left to say is when will you join the leading national service agency AmeriCorps and do your part to help those in need?
If you have any questions on anything NCCC related hit me up.
Till Next Time Do Your Part!