Yesterday marked the last training for the Class 22 Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. They still have about eight and a half weeks left until their service year ends, but in terms of training days with Volunteer Maryland they are done! Throughout these trainings the members have learned about topics regarding their programs (training and orientation, generational differences, recruitment tools, and more), skills for professional development, and advice for life after AmeriCorps. All pretty useful information from my perspective.
As always the trainings are a great time to catch up with all of the members, especially ones that I don’t get to talk to on a regular basis. Another exciting aspect of this training was that it included the VISTA members from our program! I really don’t get to see them often so hosting a joint training was definitely an added bonus for me. 🙂
At the beginning of the day Patrice, our lovely outreach manager, introduced an exercise on how to construct an effective story, one with a protagonist, an inciting incident, emotion and all of the juicy details that make a story worth listening to. We consider this a valuable piece of our training because storytelling provides an incredible insight that may not only move or entertain an audience but help an organization and individual move forward professionally.
Storytelling could not be more appropriate at the end of an AmeriCorps service year. We asked the members to take some time to construct a story of their service year. We broke into small groups and briefly shared our experiences with each other. I was really appreciative of the members being so frank, funny, and thoughtful about what they had been through during their year. Their stories were heartwarming and interesting. Not all of them told stories of success or perfect scenarios but honest accounts of their interest in learning more about themselves and the community through this experience. There was mention of funding/staff changes, multiple attempts to reach out to the community, tree plantings, new experiences with public transportation, watching/helping a community member learn to read, feeling out of place in their organization and generally getting accustomed to this experience.
As I look back at each of them when they started in September and listened to simply real stories depicted with such raw emotions I was reminded of how much I love this job!