After 2 months, I’m still figuring out what it means to be a VISTA. My perceptions have changed, because even with the information we receive at PSO, I had no idea what it meant to be a VISTA when I left Philadelphia. I’m still learning and I am realizing that being a VISTA is much more than doing daily tasks that might become redundant for other office personnel. I always push myself to think about how what I am doing is supporting the VISTA model. This is a great mindset to have though, because in future careers I hope to always think about if I am supporting the overall goals of my organization.
At PSO, becoming a VISTA felt great. Embarking on a year of service by spending a week with other people who were doing the same and were excited for themselves and for you was a positive and uplifting feeling. Continuing a year of service with people who often times get too lost in their tasks to remember why they are here and who they are here for, and who have no idea that I am embarking on a year of service and am excited to make changes, is a completely different experience. At PSO and at RYY meetings we love to share our thoughts, ideas for improvement, successes, challenges, etc… At my placement, complaints and fear are shared instead of ways to fix what is being complained about and change what is scary. Ideas for improvement are thrown around every minute, but are seldom implemented for a variety of reasons. And successes are muffled by the media while challenges and difficulties flood the new papers and TV stations.
I am not sure if my perceptions of being a VISTA have changed but through writing this, I know that my perceptions of my organization have changed and continue to change every day. Some days I feel sick to my stomach about things that take place and some days I am ecstatic about changes being implemented by my department! So maybe this is what being a VISTA means-experiencing ups and downs and gaining a better understanding of community organizations, both positive and negative.