Thinking back to how you felt at the end of PSO have your perceptions about what it means to be a VISTA changed? If so – how (and why!)?
When I first left PSO I felt empowered, like I could make a deep lasting impact on the communities I would be serving. What I did not realize was how much of an impact the people I work with would make on me.
I realize that my life has been extremely privileged; I have had the luxury of a college education, a roof of my head, and have never gone hungry. However, the people I encounter on a daily basis were stripped of their most basic of luxuries- their human rights. Privileges such as freedom of speech and religion are ones which are so embedded into how I think, that I find it near impossible to imagine otherwise. Some days I am overwhelmed with the stories of hardship, struggle, resistance, brutality, and perseverance I encounter on a daily basis.
To me, being a VISTA is no longer about making an impact, but letting others make an impact on you. The women in my health promotion groups are some of the bravest, resilient, intelligent, and enthusiastic women I have ever met. I have already learned so much from them in the past few months than I could ever have anticipated.
I now see my VISTA year as a sponge. I will absorb everything I can- from knowledge, to recipes, to anecdotes, to the good and the bad. It is through these experiences that my VISTA work will continue well into my future. These are memories and experiences which will shape how I approach the world and my future endeavors.