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Reflections on a Year of National Service
Editor's Note: For the fourth year an AmeriCorps or VISTA member from the Federal Way AmeriCorps and VISTA Team has written a reflections column for Volunteer. Instead of one writer this year, three AmeriCorp members will share this column space. These columns are a reflections of the impact that volunteering has on someone's life. Enjoy.
Federal Way AmeriCorps and VISTA Team. Established in 1995, the Federal Way AmeriCorps program works to strengthen the Federal Way community through academic tutoring and modeling an ethic of service.
AmeriCorps members in Federal Way serve full time in the Federal Way Public Schools. In addition to tutoring students and developing before and after school programs, members manage two community tutoring programs, implement civic engagement community projects and serve in area service projects. AmeriCorps members also recruit and train community volunteers. For more information on their programs http://www.fwps.org/dept/volunteer/acfw.html
As part of our training in September (that seems like a thousand years ago!), we wrote ourselves letters that would be delivered in January. I got mine a couple of weeks ago.
I had completely forgotten about it, and I never get mail, so I was mystified by this thin package--I didn't even recognize my handwriting. When I opened the envelope, I felt the way I imagine it would feel to unearth a time capsule. The letter felt familiar and like it was written by a different person.
I have to say, this letter could not have come at a better time. It's mid-year, and things are getting tough. The gleam of moving to a new place and starting a new exciting job is gone, and the service remains. Service is tough. I don't have time do all the things I want to do. Sometimes I wish I had more energy. The semester just ended, which meant crunch time for some students. It's hard to show up every day and strive to be at your best.
I wrote to myself, "What do I want my service to be in January? I want to be comfortable with what I'm doing…I want to know my students at least a little and have an idea of what I can do to help them succeed…I want to know something about service and I want to be passionate--I want to care about something! I don't want to ever give up or take the easy way out."
Oh, I thought. That's what I'm doing here! It's so easy to forget in the day to day what serving in a school even means. I do want these things--and I've achieved some of them! It was easy for me, in the face of struggles, to forget the good things I've done. I can read this letter, and realize, yes, I can say I've accomplished something.
I signed off to myself by saying the following: "Try not to stress too much. Live in the moment, or at least try to…Try not to let your fear show, and don't let it stop you from trying new things! You've got this."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Corporation for National and Community Service
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