Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I just got back from our Mid-Year AmeriCorps conference. I think we're four hundred-something strong? Just Notre Dame Mission Volunteers. Everyone met up for four days at a Hyatt in Herndon, VA to share what we do at our service sites and reflect on the first six months of service.

-Every group made a video/slide show/skit to present their site to the conference, and I made the video for the New Orleans group. It was really time-consuming but really, ridiculously fun. Now that I know how to make videos I think I'll be making a bunch of them in Palestine. Set to some catchy music. The Boulder group did a dance to Passion Pit's Little Secrets so I think I might steal that one for the next video venture...

-It was really inspiring to see the work being done at all the other sites. To think of how many lives are being touched by the NDMVA program alone, not the mention all of AmeriCorps, and how many lives could be touched if every American put in a year or two of service...!!!

-"If you're not angey and in despair, you're not paying attention." Note there are two kinds of despair, the despair that makes you resigned and withdrawn, and the despair that lights a fire under you and inspires you to action. I'd say the proposal to cut funding from AmeriCorps would fall under the latter definition. I've been despairing at the cluelessness of these "leaders," how we have to play Stupid vs. Evil again because that decision couldn't be described as anything else. But I called my representatives and signed the petitions, though I don't think the bill will pass. And maybe we'll come out stronger in the end. This is a great opportunity to talk about national service and the impact we're making. I just wish we had the advertising power and financial incentives to compete with the U.S. military. Join AmeriCorps! Serve your country! Build a house! Educate disadvantaged youth! Gain skills and confidence! Advocate for social justice! Celebrate your individuality! Restore your faith in humanity! Come out despaired, not traumatized.

Education really is our best weapon. Today was a really rough day at school, but I'm so glad I decided to stay in New Orleans another year and teach. Middle schoolers are awesome.