Tuesday, November 20, 2012

David Pixton's Story!

Howdy, Ya'll! Happy almost Thanksgiving to all you non-Canadians (bc theirs is in October.  Knowledge!)  While you are digging through your closets to find your stretchiest, most feast-appropriate pants, take a moment and read David Pixton's story. Bon Apetit!

Where were you before AmeriCorps?
David Pixton: I was in Pendleton, OR working for a clinical laboratory. Everything that comes out of a human, we tested.

How did you hear about AmeriCorps? Why did you decide to apply?
David Pixton: I wasn’t too happy doing what I was doing. It was interesting stuff because I really like science, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I was stuck in the lab all night by myself. I surfed on the internet for things that I could do. I found this program and it sounded really fun and like something I could do. I applied, and was interviewed, and got the job. I only applied for the education type positions because I wanted to work with kids. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a teacher at that point, but now I do know. I think being a teacher is where I can best serve the kids and most serve myself.

What called you about AmeriCorps?
David Pixton: When I applied, the only background in AmeriCorps that I had was from when I was a kid in elementary school in Washington. I remember working with an AmeriCorps member for most of the day on my multiplication facts. I remember we stopped working, because of a lack of time, on the 8s multiplication facts. And to this day, I still have problems with the facts past 8.

How have you changed since joining AmeriCorps?
David Pixton: I’ve become a better leader. I never had to lead before quite to this degree. And now, I’m responsible for all of these kids. Even though I’m not a teacher, I’m still responsible for the kids in my AVID tutorial. It’s a weight, but it’s rewarding because I get to lead them and help push them in all these m

directions. I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but it is a cool feeling.

more after the jump!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Tues double feature!

In honor of this important day in the democracy of ours, here are TWO stories.  The first is from the lovely Caitlin Kreick, and the second from the illustrious Ian Baldwin.  Enjoy!!

What were you doing before AmeriCorps? Why did you decide to serve?
Caitlin Kreick: I worked for AmeriCorps once before through Jumpstart. Applied to see if I really did want to teach. I came here hoping that it would confirm or deny if I do actually want to go into teaching and it did help confirm that I do want to teach.

What did your friends and family think when you decided to serve?

Caitlin Kreick: They had been watching me do service projects since I was in high school. So at first, my parents were a little in shock about what I was doing and who I was with, but I kept doing it. I just kept doing it, I just kept serving. I was stubborn and they didn’t like it, I was stubborn.

When I quit my job and decided to serve they kind of understood. And then when I came out here my mom was the person who spoke up and my dad was like, “You’re going 3,000 miles away to a place you’ve never been to help people you’ve never met or would never meet”, and my mom was just like, “Well, let her go,” and she was kind of my champion the whole time.
Earlier in the year we were encouraged to text someone who helped us get here and text them to know that you’re thankful, so I texted my dad. Because my parents really helped me out financially to help me get here so I said, “thanks. you made this possible.” My dad’s response back to that was, “you’re the only one in the family who ever tries to give back and I’m glad I can help you out with that.”

more after the jump!
It didn’t surprise me that this was hard. I’ve always known, empirically and intellectually, that this is what people had to do because I’ve served those people before. I never truly experienced it in a way that wasn’t truly by choice. It’s affected my life, but I think in a positive way because i’ve actually now experienced the things that I rail against and I’m so frustrated that people don’t understand. I’m now personally scared when I turn on the T.V. and people are talking about cutting funds for food stamps. I’m the one like, “No! That’s just a bad idea, don’t do that! Oh god, oh god, don’t do that! That’s such a terrible idea.” I wouldn’t have been able to feel so connected to those sorts of things if I hadn’t been able to live them.


Name: Ian Baldwin
Location before AmeriCorps: Eugene, OR

Where are you serving now?
I serve at Federal Way High School. Federal Way is an incredibly inspiring school to work at, considering all the obstacles our students are overcoming on their road to success. One of the toughest things about working at Federal Way is seeing students failing because of “life circumstances” that are interfering with their ability to stay focused on school. As a tutor, it is empowering to know that I have a significant effect on my students lives, and that I can help be a bridge from their past to their future.
What do you family and friends think of your service? Initial reactions?
One of the challenges AmeriCorps faces is that no one understands what it does. I know I certainly didn’t when I began my service, and my friends and family still don’t know what it does. This either has to do with a lack of interest by the public in service, or a lack of public advertising on the part of AmeriCorps to get the word out about all the great programs we have to offer volunteers.

How have you changed?
I am a lot more punctual and professional. Before coming to AmeriCorps, I had worked in the field of education for four years as a tutor and debate coach. As a result, I had a hand up in knowing strategies for tutoring students of different ages and backgrounds. What I wasn’t prepared for, however is just how demanding the AmeriCorps workload can become at times. Between volunteer recruitment, documentation and tutoring, things can get a bit stressful. Now, I feel that I am more able to navigate these obstacles and balance different responsibilities.
What did you think service was going to be like?
I actually expected it to be quite similar to what it was. However, for me that was because I had already been an academic tutor for many years, and had a good understanding of what the job entailed.
What does national service mean to you?
To me, national service means giving back to a country that has given you everything. Without the services and security provided by our country, we wouldn’t have ever been in a position to succeed in life. Giving back for one year is the least I could do.

What other job possibilities were you considering before AmeriCorps?
Before joining AmeriCorps, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. AmeriCorps changed that. Now I recognize that many of the academic challenges we face can’t just be solved by having “good teachers” especially when it is difficult to attract good teachers to the profession due to salary. Instead, many of the changes we need will happen at a governmental level, in terms of increased funding for education, and a change in the way we market education to our students. I reject the idea that serving students can only happen by becoming a teacher.