On Wednesday, I said goodbye to Woods Church in Severna Park, for probably the last time. We’ve held many Volunteer Maryland trainings there over the past two years, but Wednesday was the very last training for VM Class 23 (and the VISTAs) and, unless I come back as a guest trainer at some future training, my very last training as a member of Volunteer Maryland. As we held our second round of site visits over the past few months, we reminded VMCs and their Site Supervisors that the year was quickly drawing to a close, with the overwhelming response of, “I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by!” I totally agree with that sentiment, I can’t believe it’s mid-June, I can’t believe I’m almost done my second year of service with Volunteer Maryland.
Being an AmeriCorps member is not just about service, it is about learning and growing as a person. AmeriCorps is hard, but it is also an amazing opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals, learn more about your community, and learn more about yourself. During the service year, when you’re in the trenches, trying to recruit volunteers (or, if you’re a VISTA, write grants, develop a website, or evaluate the success of your service organization), it’s often hard to take a step back and think about what it is you are doing, to think about what you’ve learned and what you are taking away from this experience. It’s easy to come away from something thinking, “that was hard,” but trying to explain to someone else why it was hard (and, more importantly, what you gained from it) if you haven’t thought about it is even harder.
With that in mind, this last training day was focused on reflection. We asked the VMCs and VISTAs to take an objective look back at their years and to think about what they’ve learned. Then, we asked them to do a short presentation about it. The results? Well, the VISTAs presented us with a fantastic mash-up of some well-known songs, lyrics re-written to describe their years, the VMCs put on some nice mini-plays, and us RCs, well, we wrote a rap to the tune of “Baby Got Back.” The activity captured the creativity and humor needed to succeed in AmeriCorps, as well as the spirit of determination and the challenges everyone faced over the course of the year. It was a great training to be a part of and I will certainly miss all of our members come the end of the service year in August!