By: Erik Brady
This program has fulfilled and exceeded my expectations in every way so far. The food that is provided is delicious and plentiful. I have yet to have a bad meal. The program is full of opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. Living in a community of 18 is a lot more fun and cozy than I expected. Finding a quiet nook to relax is not as hard as you might think with the numbers that we have.
When I first came to Massachusetts in the fall, I was a little apprehensive about the idea of meeting 17 other people, getting to know them, and living with them in close quarters right off the bat. It reminded me all too well of freshman dorms at college; not a bad experience but as an introvert I need my alone time to recharge. Luckily, I’ve had little problem finding a quiet place either in the sun room, office, or my bunk to read a book, take a nap, or just to relax and think. The people here are different in a lot of ways. It makes sense because people have different backgrounds and grew up in separate geographical areas of the USA. Despite our differences we all tend to get along well. I think a lot of our community success has to be credited to the staff. Right from the start they gave us good tools to manage living with a group whether it was anecdotes about what has worked in the past or actual conflict resolution training. These are skills that we will all develop and work on for the rest of the program and into the future. The group cohesion is strengthened by activities we all do together like going hiking, laundry and dinner at a local town, movies in the bunkhouse, or cooking together.
The food has been fantastic. Nancy is the main cook and she has done a great job finding vegetarian and vegan recipes that continue to surprise and satisfy. Being a meat eater my whole life I was partially excited and uneasy about committing to a vegetarian diet during the week. While I do still crave meat occasionally, the food has been tasty and nutritious. I really appreciate the program sourcing their foods from local farms as much as possible. We buy some of our dairy from a local farm and some seasonal produce comes from local farms as well. It really feels good to support local farms when we can.
The program allows for plenty of personal and professional growth. The training I’ve received has helped me overcome some of my anxiety while speaking to a large group. Creating some simple goals for education season and the program was a great first step toward personal development. Serving with my teaching partner has been great and it allows me to work on communication constantly. Being chosen for a placement with DCR’s trails program was an honor. I’ve been doing my very best to make it a major success while getting great experience from some of the best state employees out there. With the placement I was given the opportunity to continue developing some of the skills I learned while I was an SCA intern with the Fish and Wildlife Department over the summer. It seems like a really great progression of those skills and I look forward to seeing how I do in the coming months with DCR.
Again this program has fulfilled and exceeded my expectations in every way so far. I can’t wait to see where it will take me and the other SCA Massechusetts AmeriCorps members from here.
On a different note, the end of this month marks a full year of devoting my time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears to doing AmeriCorps service. Being part of something bigger than any one person and focusing on things that do not directly relate to my own personal gains has given me a powerful vantage point from which I view the world. I feel an immense gratitude to the people who make SCA and AmeriCorps programs happen; whether it’s members or staff. This gratitude fuels me to do my best service. You all know who you are.