We created an AmeriCorps “A” for Fisher enrichment.
We created an AmeriCorps “A” for Fisher enrichment.
So, I’ve officially spent a week in Alpaugh, CA. Hopefully one day, I’ll have enough internet service to post pictures of this beautiful place, but for now you’ll have to just take my word for it. We live in the “Ameri-mansion,” a ranch style house with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a kitchen, washer and dryer, tv, and an incredible collection of old VHS tapes. The land here is flatter than even Iowa was, so the sun rises and sunsets are spectacular. Our work with the BLM has so far consisted mostly of weed removal, particularly the invasive species Bassia. My new best friend is the Mccloud, a tool with a rake on one side and a sharp flat edge on the other, used to hack away Bassia and other pesky plants. We’ve also spent time doing trash removal, cleaning out storage sheds, removing tumbleweeds (they clog canals), and trimming trees. Through this work, we’ve gotten very familiar with the black-widow spider. Black-widows are poisonous, so knowing they live in our garage is not a comforting thought. We’ve also gotten used to having dust around us all the time. Fairly often we clean the entire house and van, but within the hour they’re covered with dust again.
One of my favorite parts of this job so far has been seeing the BLM’s wetlands. They have this beautiful pond, with a lookout built by a former AmeriCorps team, surrounded by marsh. Working there we get to see all kinds of birds, and fairly often we’ll see a coyote off in the distance.
When we’re not working, we spend a lot of time watching movies and playing cards. While it is not a far walk into town, the only things to do there are eat at the cafe or shop a the convenience store. Once a week we drive to another town to use the internet at Starbucks and go to the grocery store. Overall there’s a lot of time to just sit and relax, which is good because my muscles are usually pretty sore after a day’s work.
Looking at today’s date, I just realized that I missed the midnight showing of Hunger Games. It’s amazing how life still goes on while I’m sitting here disconnected from the world. For example, my new twin cousins Timothy and Joshua were born almost a week ago, and soon after my brother got engaged! Congratulations on both events, I’m so excited!
Well, I believe that’s all I have for now. As always, feel free to shoot me a letter or a text, I love to keep in touch but unfortunately phone calls don’t work right now. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. 🙂
I officially love this place. Anytime I start to freak out, something good happens.
Yesterday, I was getting really upset because I was hungry, and there wasnt anything left in the kitchen that you could make a meal out of. I couldn’t think of anyone who would want to eat McDonald’s, but I made myself wait and see if anyone wanted to join me before I stormed off into town all alone. While waiting, this guy walks up and asks if I’d be willing to help with a project he has to learn more about corps members. We end up having an awesome conversation that completely turns my mood around. Then I go to my kitchen to discover that some team members walked to alco to get the ingredients needed for stir fry, and made enough for everyone. Horrible afternoon turned perfect by some amazing corps members.
Today, I accidentally missed my morning meeting because I thought it was at 6:45. I show up at 6:30 thinking I’m extra early only to catch everybody leaving. This combined with some very long, dry training sessions made me think that today just wasn’t going to be my day. Then dinner roles around and we once again have no food. (This is not a normal thing in Americorps, my groups just got some hiccups) So, of course, I’m freaking out again because I do not do well hungry. Once again my group members saved the day, making a full meal, cheesecake included.
I know this post jumped around a bit, but the point is, I’m surrounded by an amazing group of people. Every time I feel homesick or frustrated or lost, I get pulled into an awesome conversation, or the funniest game of trivial pursuit (the answer is fanny fox), or my group will burst out into song. I’m really sad that we’ll be changing groups tomorrow, but really glad that I’ve gotten to meet and spend so much time with these wonderful people.
My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Tomorrow I have a 7am flight from Bradley to Chicago, then an 11:25 to cedar rapids. Above is a picture of my duffle, packed and weighing in at 26 lbs. My clothes etc for ten months are in there. Other than that I’ll be bringing this backpack…
And this purse….
Now that I’ve got that covered, I have to apologize for this post. I feel like I sound all robotic, but I’m testing out my phones WordPress app and I haven’t quite adjusted to writing long posts on a phone. I also I haven’t figured out why some of the photos are sideways… still working out the kinks.. 🙂
Anyway, I am super excited to get started and meet everybody tomorrow! A little nervous too, but nothing out of the norm. 🙂
I’ll leave you all with an awesome fema corps blog post and a promise to update soon.
So, this past year I realized that I needed a plan. I was about to graduate, it was time to figure out my life. But, mostly, I still wanted to explore. I had spent the previous year in Paris, learning all about France, the French, and many other cultures from my friends in the Foyer. While living in Paris, I realized that while I loved my time there and the people I met, I am very American. This is not a good or bad thing, it just is. I am the sort of person that loves traveling, learning about new cultures, and is open to living in another country for a period of time. But, when it comes time to settle down and grow up, I want to live in America. I would love to grow old in Connecticut (and by grow old I don’t mean be elderly, I mean start in my 30s or 40s and live there until I could actually be called old, which doesn’t happen for a while despite what people may think).
So, what this means in my round-about way of writing, is that I was looking for a way to see more of America. I had learned an awful lot about Europe, and yet I can’t tell you anything about Americans beyond the East coast beside stereotypes. I decided that I wanted to spend a year volunteering before starting my dream of working in an art museum. A good friend told me about Americorps, so I got online and took a look. While there are many great service opportunities across the US (Teach for America, City Year, etc), most of them involve teaching or tutoring and almost all keep you in the same place doing the same thing for a year or more. Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is unique in that you are assigned a geographic region of the US and you change what you’re doing and the location throughout the 10 months of service, and, bonus, you’re paid, minimum of minimum wage, but paid all the same.
So, I applied for NCCC. And waited, a while, and got put on a wait list, and waited some more. While I waited, I looked and applied for other opportunities, one of which was a new disaster relief division of NCCC partnered with FEMA.
And I got in, to FEMA Corps. HOORAYYYYYY
No sarcasm, I am completely and utterly thrilled to be part of FEMA Corps. 😀
So, what this means is that starting August 28th, and lasting 10 months, I will be part of Americorps NCCC in the North Central Region of the US. This region is based in Vinton, Iowa, but after my training I will be part of a team that could be working in any of the following states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.
I just got my Welcome Packet, I joined the facebook group, this is really happening. 😀
So, hopefully I’ll be able to use this blog the same way I used it during my year in Paris. I won’t be bringing a computer with me, so I won’t be able to post as often, but I will make an effort to stay updated.
Who knows, my next post might just be about how I have to fit 10 months of my life into a duffle bag. 😉