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.
I honestly thought it was so cliche when I read stories of the "life-changing" experience NCCC had on people, I 100% did not think I would become one of these. I still hold on to part of that belief, as my year of service did not alter my world entirely, but I cannot deny that it has left a huge mark on it. Not only do I still follow and keep up with many of the individuals I served with last year, I also often think about the communities we were [temporarily] a part of. I'm still a member of the "Deming Community" Facebook page, and while I've thought a few times about removing myself from the group, I've yet to have the nerve to do so. I love seeing the progress that continues there, most notably the strong will and dedication from our house mom, Ariana, and Play Sharity, an organization my team partnered with in its early stages and I have been so excited to see grow.
Although I don't see updates from them very often, my thoughts too go back to the family we had in Festus, MO. I do hope that the DRA (Disability Resource Association) is still doing well and getting volunteers to help support all of the amazing work they're doing for the people of Festus. I'm still in touch with one of our supervisors from Habitat for Humanity of the Saint Vrain Valley and have thus, been able to see the progress they've made on both the Lion's development and new builds in Estes park - a project my team was supposed help start, but was postponed thanks to both frigid temperatures and the government shut down.
On a more personal level, my year of service has reaffirmed for me the desire to continue to serve in all aspects of my life. I used to attribute my desire to serve (and travel) to my week in Jamaica as part of an alternative spring break trip my Junior year of college, but I think NCCC will now also be part of that narrative. My service as a team leader reaffirmed my abilities to serve as a leader and mentor, but also navigate relationship building and networking among community members. Acknowledging this ability within myself has also had an effect on my plans for the future.
For the last few years, since discovering my passion for the field of education through my teaching English abroad, I've began laying the foundation for a career in student affairs, specifically international education. After serving though, and thriving in the relationship building and community partnerships, I've began to consider re-writing those plans, adding more of a service aspect to the equation. As I make plans for the future, the foundations of my past will surely all play a role. Just as my experience in Jamaica, teaching in South Korea and backpacking through Southeast Asia have been significant players, my year of service with NCCC is yet another significant chapter in the story of this amazing life.
The only people who truly know your story are the ones who help you write it
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".