As soon as I hear the crunch of leaves underfoot (and pull out my beloved and vast scarf collection) I know that it is time to really get to work. It must be the undying internal clock of my student-self, but there is something undeniable about fall that makes me want to change something-myself, my life, the world. And, because I’m ambitious, I usually want to change the world.
Thus, it could not be a better time to be knee-deep in the start up of a second AmeriCorps term. The Ready to Learn Providence team started training in the second week of August and were placed at our partner sites in the first week of September. The first month is challenging for everyone-new and returning members alike-as job descriptions are explained, tours are given and everyone settles into their duties. October is when the real work begins and when the big picture is revealed. Amidst the changing colors outside, all of the members have been coming into their own within their sites and as members of the Ready to Learn Providence 2013-14 AmeriCorps team. Through team meetings and trainings we have coalesced as a group and become a support system to which members can come during the challenges we know that we will face this year. We have also taken on new and important roles in our sites. Whether in a childcare setting, a healthcare site, a library or the Ready to Learn Office, we have all embraced our roles as AmeriCorps engaged in a year of service, committed to positively impacting ourselves, our community and our country.
Nevertheless, despite the enthusiasm and support, all of the change can be scary. It can also be exciting. I was anxious to go back to work, but also nervous about taking on new roles and responsibilities as a second year member. However, doing new and challenging things is the excitement of the AmeriCorps. I would have never imagined the excitement that I would find in designing a story time activity. And the happiness I would experience when my activity was enjoyed by the children. But there is something beyond the excitement of the new and challenging…something greater that we will all experience this year. To me, that something is finding that all of the little things I’ve been working on are actually having a greater impact-something bigger than me and my little place in the world. This greater impact is the joy of AmeriCorps. I find this joy everywhere, especially in a second year. When a child remembers my name and then tries to spell it. Or when one who couldn’t write a letter, let alone in the right direction, is asking for help to write a story. And my greatest joy is when children get excited about reading. They jump up and down at the door waiting for me to come in with my bag of books and activities, and, when asked if they want to hear a story, they scream “yes!”.
I know that this year will have its ups and downs, but right now, in the crisp chill of a perfect October day, I can’t help but be optimistic that we will make an impact, we will change lives (including our own) and we will experience the excitement and joy that this year has to offer. There are challenges, but there is also support. There are struggles, but there are also solutions. I hope the year is everything I am imagining. I look forward to finding out.