I chose the padded chair just now.

Sitting here in the computer lab on a metal fold-out chair left my rear a bit cold-- but someone abandoned the padded office chair and SNAG! I WIN!

Today was an amazing day. The big events:
  • Number one that tops all, I am going to Biloxi, Mississippi for my first round spike project! My heart is racing as I read more information about our project and type out this announcement to you, my friends and family. My team was hoping to get a gulf project for the first round (each project is called a spike, only a way for us to designate what's going on), not only to go South and help ASAP, but also to bail on this crazy winter weather and possibly avoid some of the extreme summer heat and humidity down there. Our hopes are validated!
    • We will be doing most of our work with Hands On Gulf Coast, participating in rebuilding projects in the area. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit shore 2.5 years ago, Biloxi was one of the cities hardest hit. They are a coastal town (yes, we'll be living near the beach) and back in 2005 the hurricanes wiped out SO much. A 30 foot storm surge smashed houses, businesses, schools, and churches; very few buildings were left standing and repairable.
      • I still don't know all the information of our project, so if you want to know more you can play the game that I am. It's called Internet research! The link to Hands On website will, with some time and effort, tell you all about what I might be doing. I already know that our housing is at a church, we may get bunks or might sleep in tents in the backyard. Showers are outside, a hose to wash off with. Meals are interesting, and we will eat lunch with the Salvation Army most days.
      • Rumor also says that we could be working in schools doing tutoring. I should know more in a few days.
  • Number two is that I was chosen to be trained as a red-card certified wild land fire fighter! I honestly did not expect to be this lucky-- Yes, I did pass my pack test. Yes, I did have a good attitude. Yes, I do have leadership skills. But of the 80+ people that passed the test I am glad to be one of the 40-45 people chosen. Life for me as a fire fighter will proceed normally as every other corps members, except that:
    • I am mandated to be more physically fit (minimum 5x per week physical training instead of 3x).
    • Will have additional intensive training in fire response.
    • In situations of disaster relief I am much more likely to be pulled for Fire Fighting vs. other disaster response such as Red Cross.
  • Number three, I experienced my first Northeastern ice storm today. When we left the University of Delaware we planned to drive straight to the YMCA for physical training, however we encountered bad weather and a LOT of accidents on our way there. Rain and sleet spattered the roads and cars and when the temperature dropped ice was instant. I had never seen so many cars tossed off the road so quickly and indiscriminately. Black ice is no one's friend. We made it home safe and sound after abandoning our work out plans; there's no reason to risk our safety for physical training. We will just double our time and efforts tomorrow during PT.
Last week the entire corps became certified in first aid and CPR, thanks to great leaders and the Red Cross. This week we will all receive Disaster Relief training through the Red Cross, and I am looking forward to more valuable information. Despite long hours of sitting, listening and watching power point presentations, I do feel like I'm learning and the information will stick with me through my lifetime.

Chad Jeremy is an amazing man, organizing great trainings for us corps members and he's great at getting us involved and excited about our work. I wish you all could experience the positive energy radiating from 300+ young men and women, ages 18-24, all here for the ultimate goal of getting things done. The excited buzz here is nothing I've felt before. A couple days ago we received further training in reflection of our experiences and what they mean to us; I agree with our leaders in the importance of taking time to consider exactly what we are doing and what effects our service has on ourselves, our community, our country, and our world as a whole. This is my generation's chance to show our friends and family that we care, that we are capable to committing to good and making a difference. This is an opportunity to show our country that we play a role in its direction.

One of the discussion topics Mr. Chad Jeremy led during class was, "What makes a good citizen?" We are constantly advised to take the weight of information given to us, sort through it, and and somehow remember what is important. In our teams we came up with many different ideas; citizenship can be seen as a civic duty, a legal role within a country, a position we each take in our communities, plus much more. Ultimately we all decided that in order to be a good citizen one must start by being proactive and aware, and that taking action is essential. Some people felt we should always obey our government, some felt it's our duty to question our government and invoke change through the voice we each have. Some felt that being selfless is important, others felt that taking care of oneself is necessary before we can care for others. But no matter what way we looked at, we all agreed that citizenship is more than a title or definition. Our rights and responsibilities are great. Without effort our progress will be small. Our pledge as corps members sums up so much of what I feel.

The AmeriCorps Pledge:

I will get things done for America -

to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy,
I will take action.

Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.

Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.


I don't know what my next 10 months hold. I don't know exactly what to expect. I don't know where I'll always be. I don't know that I'll always enjoy my work. I do know, however, that my life is good and that I can take these experiences with me forever. I love community. I love the way NCCC has united 300+ people under one big umbrella and taught us that our differences give us strength. I love the way NCCC is teaching us to work together. I love that everyone here contributes to my experience.

Comments

  1. you forgot the last line in The AmeriCorps Pledge:

    "And kick some ass!"

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so excited for you! Helping people that really need it brings something to your life that nothing else can! Congratulations on being chosen for the fire fighter program! I'm excited to see you on Monday and hear more about it!

    Sara

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mandy,

    You just totally made my day! You have no idea! Thanks for all of the fun date ideas. I think you are right making a good meal and sitting home to enjoy it is probably the best idea. That is awesome that you will be spending the next little while on the beach I am so jealous! Congratulations on scoring high on the fire test. You are so smart, just be careful around the fires. Is that scary? Thanks again for your advice! Love you!

    Liz
    ps I agree with you about Grandma's Valentines cookies, they are an exception to ANY diet. They are the best. Oh also I must say you are a great writer, when I start reading your blog I feel like I am there. You should write a book

    ReplyDelete

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