March 8 - 14 is deemed "Americorps Week" as a time to honor both the programs and participants who have served since the inception of the program in 1994. While it has been eight months since I completed my service term with the Southwest Region, there remains a lasting impact from the time I spent serving our country. The most obvious comes in the form of friendships, individuals I did not know a year and a half ago I now eagerly watch for updates, as they continue doing amazing things. From my ATL [Assistant team leader] who has now become a Team Leader with in the North Central region, to fellow team members who are now serving with or about to embark on an adventure through service in the Peace Corps. There are others who have returned to "normal life" as we so call it, but I have no doubt that service still plays a role in their daily routines.
A mid-round move from Colordao to Missouri was weird, most other teams were traveling only a few hours, not 900 miles, but I seem to never be in line with what everyone else is doing, so it's cool. The team and I packed our bags on a Sunday afternoon, ready for Monday departure with a one night stop at campus scheduled. We were meant to return to pick up some materials before hitting the road Tuesday morning, but mother nature had different plans in store for us. After being warned about them, and then reading as the main character runs her car off the road in a Kansas ice storm in "While I'm Falling" I decided to check the forecast. "A winter mess" was predicted for Tuesday, stretching from Colorado to Missouri, in essence our entire drive. I contacted our unit leader and it was agreed, for safety concerns, and my mental, the team was allowed to stay on campus an extra day. I appreciated having a day 'off', time to sort my life out before packing it up again to move cross country, and as much as a few other denied it, I think they appreciated it as well, plus getting to see "Mother Earth" was an added bonus.
I've began to lose count of the number of places I've been told that this would be the place I'd build friendships to last a lifetime. First it was high school, but no those friends won't last, my real friends were supposed to be found during the transitive years of my life spent at UW-La Crosse, college roommates and classmates, those would be the people that stuck. Then I grew up, got a job and moved half a world away, a place where I didn't expect to find friends, but now seven years later have people in my life I can't imagine being without. You may be seeing a trend here, my picking up and rearranging life, shuffling the daily occurrences, throwing in new challenges and obstacles, but the great thing about all of this is that with each new change comes a whole new set of friendships. In the first few weeks of my service, back in the days of training at our campus in Aurora, I began to doubt how close I would grow to my counterparts, something felt lacking, but the last six weeks have changed all of that, and I now know I've let some people into my life that will remain for years to come.
Over the course of my first month here, while spending hours in a conference room learning how to be a leader, there was one message repeatedly reiterated to us, as Team Leaders. Don’t fraternize with anyone, that sounds extreme, but we were directed not to cross lines with staff, corps members and the sponsor, so yeah basically everyone outside the green shirts. I’m all for this on the level of romantic relationships, honestly there just shouldn't’ be any of that in and around Americorps, but on a friendship level this rubbed me the wrong way.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".