An AmeriCorps*VISTA reflects on her year of service.
By Mary Rynasko
Serving with AmeriCorps*VISTA was not something I knew I wanted to do until it happened. After graduating college in May of 2011, I began my summer pretending that nothing had changed. I knew I wasn’t going back to school, but I also wasn’t ready to openly admit that I had no idea what I was “doing with my life”. After indulging myself with trips to Chicago and Maine, I returned home to the daunting task of résumé writing and job applications. Anyone who has looked for a job in the past decade will tell you how frustrating it can be to spend the time writing cover letters and hearing no reply. However, I’ve learned that if you talk to enough of your parents’ friends and friends’ parents, someone will email you a job listing that a potential employer will actually read.
After interviewing at Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (TRIP), Inc. and thinking over the big life questions, I decided that AmeriCorps*VISTA was what I wanted to do for the next year of my life.
Friends and family would probably agree that since about seventh grade I’ve been a bit of a sofa-social-commentator. I see the problems in the world around me, but as a white, upper-middle class, college graduate, my personal experiences have been primarily those of privilege. Working at TRIP, and serving the Troy communities, has informed my actions more than The Daily Show ever could have.
Additionally, my time serving with AmeriCorps*VISTA has improved my professional interaction skills dramatically. I can no longer hide under the label of “student”; every choice I make has to be done as a professional person representing a local non-profit and also a national tradition of service.
It would be wonderful if I could leave TRIP calling my year “a success”, but really success is a false ideal. If a person does manage to achieve a true sense of success, they stop trying. Therefore, the best people are those who tell themselves “Okay, great job! The project went well! Next time do it better.” My year spent envisioning and executing projects to inspire community building has reaffirmed that a feeling of accomplishment is better than one of success. Departing from TRIP will be another marker in my life, just as beginning here was, but I look forward to continuing to “do good” and I hope that I will always strive to “do good” better.