Thursday, August 22, 2013

Moving Forward and Looking Back

Though we're excited for our new VISTAs to come on board, we can't forget to say goodbye to our outgoing 2012-2013 group. In late July, to celebrate their transition, NC Campus Compact VISTAs from all over the state traveled to NC Campus Compact HQ for service and reflection. VISTAs traveled from schools as far away as Virginia Tech and Elizabeth City State University and just down the road from Duke.

The group started their day on Elon University's campus at Loy Farm, an Environmental Education Center. The property is currently being developed for multiple uses including a garden area and a greenhouse. Some of the produce is used by Elon's Campus Kitchen program or donated to local food banks. The VISTAs were introduced to the farm and worked as a group to help harvest vegetables, move equipment, and clean out storage containers.

After a few hours of hot and sweaty work the group headed to the Elon Lodge for their afternoon. There they spent their time reflecting on their year of service, tie-dying t-shirts, and saying goodbye to one another after being NC Campus Compact VISTAs together for a year.

For one activity VISTAs passed a ball from person-to-person answering questions about themselves and their experiences over the past year. Questions started with, 'if you could be one animal, what would it be and why?" (I'd be a chicken. Chickens are tasty.), and progressed to, 'what was your worst experience this year?' (just one story for this one, he hit it out of the ballpark), and finally, 'if you could have a conversation with the person who will be a VISTA at your site after you're finished, what would you tell them?'

This last question was an important part of our next activity: building a survival guide for our 2013-2014 VISTAs.This guide, broken up into chapters about things like working with community partners and navigating living on the VISTA stipend, was handed over to the new VISTAs at our orientation event on Friday, August 16. Each of the VISTAs also had the chance to tie-dye tshirts and make signs for the My Service in 6 project.

We also learned a little more about what our VISTAs have planned now for their next adventure.  Four of our VISTAs are staying on for a second year of service as NC Campus Compact VISTAs. Several VISTAs will be starting graduate programs or entering the workforce. Sara Brown, for example, accepted an internship with Heifer International. Alejandra O'Connor, will be returning home to Raleigh for a few months before shipping overseas as a member of the Peace Corps. Sally Parlier will end her VISTA service but stay on at Durham Tech as the school's new volunteer coordinator. Congratulations and best wishes to all our 2012-13 VISTAs!