Training in Dallas was AWESOME, yo. 😀
For four days I was surrounded by smart, articulate, passionate people united in a single purpose: doing our part to end poverty in our communities. While the overwhelming majority of new VISTAs were either in college or recent graduates, the over 40, 50, 60, and 70 crowds were well represented.
The main focus of our training was capacity building and sustainability. Our job as VISTAs is not to serve directly. Rather, our task is to empower the organizations we serve. We create networks, establish programs, improve technological infrastructure, engage in grant writing, and foster community support and involvement. Put simply, we don’t give out fish; we teach people to fish for themselves.
Once all the training and discussions were over it was time to take the Oath of Service. This is the same oath that all federal employees take:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and
that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.
We also make the following pledge:
I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.
I knew before I left for training that I would be taking the oath and making the pledge. What I had not foreseen was how affected I would be in doing so. It was a powerful moment.
As much as I enjoyed training and meeting people from all over the country, I must admit that it was good to get home. I spent the weekend recuperating and hanging out with my family. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Veterans’ Day event on campus and meet some of the people with whom I will be working directly. Tomorrow I’ll attend my first monthly meeting at United Way. Monday I’ll be on campus, becoming oriented, meeting staff members, and reviewing the systems and resources that the outgoing VISTA left in place. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.