Below is an interview with a first year member of Ready to Learn Providence, Alexis Marie Nelson. She is currently serving at The Meeting Street School.
What were you doing before R2LP?
Before R2LP, I was in my first year of college as a music performance major at Rhode Island College.
What experience, prior to AmeriCorps, did you have working with kids?
Ever since I was given the chance (when I was 13 years old), I started volunteering in child care. Since then, I have worked every summer as a camp counselor , and have done work in a nursery and as a nanny.
Why did you you join AmeriCorps? And specifically R2LP?
I joined AmeriCorps because I was unsure of what direction I wanted to go in career-wise. I decided to use this year to try and figure that out. I was drawn to the idea of doing service…and the educational award was definitely an incentive! I chose R2LP specifically because I definitely wanted to work with children, and had always felt a connection with them because my mother had been a R2LP AmeriCorps member! I thought it’d be cool to participate in something that I saw her enjoy and benefit from when I was a kid.
What did you know about R2LP before you joined?
All my knowledge I had of AmeriCorps was what I had absorbed as a kid. I knew that R2LP helped kids read, they used a lot of LARK kits ( my mom was on the library team and they were ALWAYS in the car), that there were a lot of people who worked as team but didn’t all speak the same language, and most importantly, whenever they all got together, there was delicious food!
What has been the best thing to happen to you this year (it can be more than one…I hate answering questions like this!)
Anytime I see progress in the babies I’m working with! It can be so exciting just to watch a 4 month old learn to roll over or a toddler finally say your name. It really makes my day.
What has been the most challenging?
Building connections with the age group I’m working with (2 months to 3 years) can be really challenging! You really have to observe their patterns and what they like and don’t like, and gain their trust. During the week, I’m trying to do that with about 55 kids!
What are your plans after your year of service?
I’m honestly not 100% sure yet! My natural response is to go back to school and continue with my music major, but this year has really opened my eyes to what I can (and like) to do. So for now my answer is to just continue to do what I love, whatever that may be!
How has R2LP changed you?
What a question! I could go on and on about what I’ve learned from this service year. I feel as though I have really been able to work on who I am as an individual while helping others. I have been challenged in many ways and have really benefitted from the trainings and on the job experience I’ve had. I feel more knowledgeable, and also more open to new experiences.
This is just a glimpse at one of our amazing members. Our Corps is so diverse and we grow so much from our interactions. Thank you Alexis for sharing all of your wisdom with us! (Can you guys believe that she is only 19?!)