Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interview Clips

Hello there!

Last weekend, we decided it was time to practice our interviewing skills by interviewing each other. We recorded our interviews with a webcam, originally just for the audio, but found that watching the interviews was an added bonus. We decided to post a couple clips to give you a sample of what interviews will be like.

The first story is Sky answering the question, "Has your time in service been what you expected it to be?"  Her answer is honest and amusing. Take a look:

This next clip is of Brittany answering the question "How do you think you've changed since joining AmeriCorps?" She has a great answer:

There is more to come!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Essay Guideline Update

Hello Everyone!

Thank you for all the e-mails, we really appreciate your support and participation!
We literally could not do this without you. As Sky brightly said, "we would just be filling a book with our own thoughts..." and that is not what we want to do. Oh Sky, she's so funny and wonderful. 

We have an important addition to add to the our guidelines.

While we have referred to your written submission as an essay, we want to emphasize the importance of first person narration. This is not a formal paper, we would love to hear you voice come through. Here is an example of a comedic first person narrative written about awkward middle school years.


-Sky, Brittany, Christina

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guidelines for Submitting an Entry

We would love to hear from you! To send AmeriStories your reflections on AmeriCorps service via e-mail (, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

Length: One page, single spaced.  Your reflection can be a list of answers to our questions, an essay, or a series of philosophical reflections or anecdotes.  You could even write a poem!  

Please answer, in some way, the following questions:
  • Name
  • Location before AmeriCorps.
  • Where are you serving right now? Tell us about your site.
  • What do your family and friends think of your service? What was their initial reaction?
Here are some more questions to provide direction to your reflection (you may answer all, some or none of these, they are jumping off points):
  • How have you changed since joining AmeriCorps?
  • What did you think service was going to be like? Was it what you expected?
  • What does national service mean to you?
  • Describe an influential character in your year of service. Is there anyone you served with, or served, who you won't forget?
  • Did you have any changes in your perspective of what service is? Can you describe a 'light bulb moment'?
  • Describe a moment when you were overwhelmed. What happened? How did you get past it?
  • How has this year with AmeriCorps changed your life goals/trajectory?  
  • What were other job possibilities that you were considering before joining AmeriCorps?


Why are you doing this?

Sky: Good question. I can’t speak for the other gals, but I want to collect these stories because we will be capturing something special and fleeting. When this year is over, my seventy team members and I will disperse. I suppose my goal is to pin down some stories that made this year ours, in 2011-2012, before we forget what made it special.

And then comes the wonderful part of sharing these memories with others, who might not know what AmeriCorps is or why on earth we would do it. There aren’t a lot of jobs to be had out there. AmeriCorps is an option, especially to those who really, truly want to serve. I want to show our year of service as truthfully as possible, told by the people who lived it. We’re oral historians, yo!

Brittany: I am privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of AmeriCorps. I would be taking advantage of a privilege if I didn’t find myself serving others.

Collecting the stories of like-minded people will (hopefully/surely) educate others to see what it really means to be selfless, to shamelessly “rock” food stamps, to meet others “where they’re at”, and to live a life filled with meaning and consideration. Once these stories are exposed, many more will see AmeriCorps as an option for their own lives. Once these stories are heard, the needs of hundreds of people in our communities can be met.

Christina: Nicely said, ladies! For me, AmeriStories is a way to capture this moment in time. Not only will we be sharing stories of what it is like to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer, but also what it is like to be someone in their early 20s, living through our country’s economic challenges. In my mind, AmeriStories can show a different side of success - the kind of success that isn’t about how much money your job pays straight out of college and instead is about the difference you are making in your community. 

What will your end product look like? 

Right now, we are focusing on collecting personal accounts from the AmeriCorps volunteers on our team. We will then be publishing this in book form.  

This blog is meant to encourage AmeriCorps members from other programs - former and current - to share their experiences. We hope to create greater awareness of the goals and impact that AmeriCorps has in our communities.

Will everything from my interview be included in the book or on the blog? 

Probably not. Due to space constraints we will select answers that we feel create a cohesive expression of our year of service. 

Is AmeriCorps only in schools?

Christina: No ma’am! As an AmeriCorps volunteer, you could be serving in a wide variety of fields. Maybe literal fields. There are AmeriCorps members who clear trails, volunteer at food banks, fight fires, build houses, serve in after-school programs, volunteer with the elderly, on Native American reservations, etc. etc. etc. AmeriCorps positions run the gambit, but are limited to jobs that aim to help communities thrive. 

Are other AmeriCorps programs collecting AmeriStories as well?

Not that we know of. We came up with this idea independently during one of our service projects. However, if you are also collecting stories from AmeriCorps volunteers, we would love to be in contact! Shoot us an email at

Are you getting paid for this?

Oh golly, no. We certainly do not get paid to be the wonderful AmeriBloggers. However, we as AmeriCorps volunteers get paid a small stipend to pay our rent and not much more.

Please send other questions you might have to We'd be more than happy to answer them!

Welcome y'all!

Last Saturday, we three “AmeriBloggers” met up at a diner in Seattle to discuss how we could create a forum for AmeriStories. Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a moment to tell you how we became a trio of tutoring and weed-pulling, Washington resident bloggers.

Sky Friedlander: Hi! Thanks for stopping by AmeriStories.  I’m Sky, from Central Pennsylvania.  I joined AmeriCorps right out of college as my first job--I’ve never really done volunteer work or taught anyone, ever.  After seven months, I’ve changed and grown in ways I never expected--I feel like I’m on the way to being an adult now!  I know personally the positive impact a term of AmeriCorps can have in a person’s life.  I really can’t talk the whole program up enough.

I will be providing illustrations for the project--I have an art-y background and I look forward to exploring stories of national service visually. I have always loved stories of all kinds--books, movies, whatever.  I hope I can show the passion I feel in the drawings I create for this project. Can’t wait to get started!

What about you, Christina?

Christina Stanton: Hello all! Writing to you from Seattle is Christina Stanton. Last fall I left the Big Apple for the Emerald City, although my original home is Baltimore, Maryland.

Unlike some of my AmeriCorps teammates, I have no formal background in education, but have thoroughly enjoyed serving in a school setting. Instead, while at NYU, I discovered my passion for oral history, storytelling and portraits of all kind. That’s where I come into this AmeriStories project.

After working on a project chronicling my Grandma Nell’s crazy 80 years on earth, I was convinced that this was the sort of thing I could see myself doing long-term. Not only was I allowed a window to view her life, but my project connected me to distant family and old friends. I quickly realized what a joy it was to listen to people tell their stories, and then help them bring them to life. Knowing what I already know about AmeriCorps volunteers, and my teammates in particular, I am so incredibly excited to help them share their experiences and unique perspectives.

Your turn, Brittany!

Brittany Turner:

Hello to you! Brittany Turner here, your AmeriBlogger friend from the San Francisco Bay Area. My interest in the AmeriStories project was sparked after I heard the great ideas of fellow AmeriBloggers, and agreed with their mission 100%.

I have had a passion for education throughout my adult life. My undergraduate studies stressed the possible impacts education can have on all people. I have made a commitment to serve communities where strong education systems and strong leaders are needed the most, a commitment that has led me to a term with AmeriCorps.

It is my belief that national service, AmeriCorps programs to be exact, are excellent avenues that can connect communities with service-minded people. I believe our country and its people can only grow positively through the impacts of community service.

Thank you for supporting AmeriStories as we support national service.