What a week!
I should probably be sleeping right now considering I have to be up and in uniform ready for a Tetnus shot, TB shot, and a physical at 7am, but I have been putting off getting this blog started for long enough. First a little back story.
I was chosen to be a Team Leader for the Pacific Region of AmeriCorps NCCC Class 16 this summer. Before going off to Sacramento for training I spent a month in Ecuador with PWST from Michigan as a Site Leader and then went to Ghana to help implement plastics recycling with GIEU, also with the University of Michigan. (I kept a journal of those trips and hope that one day I’ll be able to upload my stories on here complete with pictures.) I’m hoping those experiences helped me prepare for my year of service with the “A,” although to be truthful I don’t think anything can really 100% prepare you for anything. The rest of my time this summer I spent working as an Engineering Intern for Parsons down in Austin, TX working on feasibility studies for small public water systems. During the week before coming to Sacramento I went back up to Ann Arbor to see some friends and then spent Labor Day weekend in Lake Tahoe with my uncle. Of course I managed to leave my driver’s license and credit card in Windsor, Canada the night before my flight out west. I’m still trying to figure out how to get a new one so I can actually drive the 15 passenger van I’ll be in charge of.
That brings me up to Tuesday where I arrived on campus (an old air force base in McClellan, CA right outside Sacramento). Tuesday was in-processing and I was issued my uniforms and got my room. That night I was able to meet all the other Team Leaders. I’ll be spending the next 5 weeks with all of them going through Team Leader Training until the 300 or so Corps Members show up.
Today was our first real day of activities. From what I’ve seen so far, the staff seems to have this place/training running like a well oiled machine. The sessions seem to be going pretty flawlessly and their presentations look like they’ve given them 100s of times. I’ve been given a crazy amount of information over the last 36 hours: health benefits, AmeriCorps policies, Team Leader handbooks, schedules, you name it I probably got it. Today we talked a lot about the roles and responsibilities of Team Leaders and I’m not going to lie, it made me a bit nervous. I’m not one to get nervous easily, in fact I usually laugh in the face of stress but realizing that I’m responsible for a team of 8-12 young adults traveling around the country for the next year is a bit of a heavy load. I’m expected to be the teacher, coach, and mentor to this group and I’m only 22 (the youngest Team Leader on Campus). Some of my Corps Members could be up to 24 and so I will have to have some sort of authority over those that are potentially older than me. (Corps Members, when you get on campus take it easy on your Team Leaders. We’re under a little bit of stress over here trying to cram in all the information we’re going to need for the next year.) Now I’m not a stranger to responsibility or authority. I’ve had many leadership positions, but usually I like to spend my time learning the ropes of a program before I jump into the reigns. As far as AmeriCorps goes I’ve never been involved with the program before. It is helpful to know that I’m not alone in this. There are a decent number of other Team Leaders who have never been in AmeriCorps before either and we have a great support staff here to help us through everything.
There are 36 Team Leaders on campus and 26 of those (me included) are field team leaders. The remaining 8 are support team leaders and have various assigned responsibilities on campus. It feels like I’m back at those leadership camps I went to in high school, except that everyone is a lot older and all the information is WAY more in depth. Oh and I’ll be doing this all year. I’ve been trying to get to know my fellow Team Leaders over the past two days as I suspect that they will be a great resource (and friends) to have in times of need. Today I came down with a bit of a stomach illness which made it a bit harder to try and stay engaged in the presentations and actively try to meet everyone. Since dinner I’ve felt a lot better so hopefully I’m past whatever was in my system.
AmeriCorp places quite an emphasis on Service Learning which is great because I’m very familiar with the concept because of my work back at the University of Michigan. I was an office assistant for SERVE, which is a collection of service learning programs, and was on the Lead Team for NASST, which is one program within SERVE. I’m sure I’ll go into more detail about Service Learning at another time. I also found out I got a raise today. Always good to find out. Apparently our education grants have been raised from $4750 to $5350 because of the Serve America Act. Now if we could only get them to not tax it. I mean we are getting it for serving our country and can only redeem it for educational purposes.
I’m awaiting a new digital camera in the mail so once it arrives I’ll hopefully be able to add pictures and maybe even video to the blog to keep it a little more interesting.
I’m going to try and incorporate either a quote or a lesson learned with each post. Today I feeling like leaving you with multiple quotes that I got from Team Leader Training today:
Professionalism – Upholding the integrity of yourself and the organization you represent. “People are like cracker jacks. Everyone has a prize, it just takes longer to find it in some people.” And then finally, “You can delegate the task, not the responsibility.”
Hopefully I’ll be able to keep future posts a bit shorter but I wanted to fill you in on everything leading up to now.
Peace and Love