Daniel decided to take a gap year after graduating from high school and before he began his college career. After quietly watching the events that inflicted themselves upon the USA for years, he wanted a chance to give back to the community and to attempt to resolve problems ranging from natural disasters to unmet human needs. He also has an affinity for travel and new opportunities. When an older friend told him about the AmeriCorps NCCC, Daniel realized that the program offered a chance to address all of these things – travel, service, new experiences, new faces. Daniel is from Glastonbury, CT; and, since leaving, has already seen how even just a little time spent in the AmeriCorps can benefit an individual and everyone around them. He hopes that the remainder of his time in the Corps will be as productive as the first three months. He looks forward to going to college next year with the reassuring education award ($4,725) that the AmeriCorps provides.
Perspective. That’s it.
After tripping around the country in a 2009-era equivalent to a hippie bus (the 15 passenger van christened ‘Ste-VAN’), that’s one thing an AmeriCorps member can’t deny acquiring. I’ve written to some length about the various adventures, the various sights, and the various people I’ve met over the course of the past few months.
I’m writing from Porter, TX, where Shuffle Round’s Water 3 has spent the past few weeks doing analyses of the remaining damages done by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav to Liberty and Montgomery Counties. Whenever possible, we follow up these analyses by repairing those damages. This has included debris removal, the uncovering and subsequent recycling of a former boat that now resembled a pancake more than anything capable of traversing water, and installing FEMA blue-roofs.
To my readers, I must apologize for my long hiatus from blogging. Although I cannot justify this negligence of my responsibilities, I can offer this as my defense – absolute immersion in the NCCC.
My stay in Louisiana offered time and time again the unique experiences that I have mentioned previously, the experiences that I sought out by joining this program. Take, for example, Valentine’s Day. Around the country, in fancy restaurants, movie theaters, on long walks, or before cozy fireplaces, lovers whispered and smiled at one another. Superstores stock up on kissing-bears and heart-shaped chocolates. The floral industry BOOMS. Around the country this is an annual phenomenon…
There are a handful of things in life that will reach across any schism, over any divide to unite people. Some are moments of extreme sorrow – tragedies like those the AmeriCorps works to reduce – some are moments of extreme delight; in this case, football. As I’ve stated before, I lived my whole life prior to AmeriCorps (excluding a few vacations) within the borders of Connecticut. One of the most compelling motives for my joining the program was the opportunity to travel and experience the cultures of all the places in the U.S. that I had never visited.
Yes, working in Austin was rewarding… but it’s nothing compared to a week spent in Louisiana. My team, Water 5, is spending this next round working in Thibodaux, building houses with Habitat for Humanity. We live in a quaint little volunteer house – five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a refrigerator, oven, washer, dryer, and a new appreciation for one another’s personal space (or lack thereof) – that’s right on our worksite.
I began training with AmeriCorps NCCC in October and completed my first project during November and December. I’ve spent these past two weeks on a very enjoyable break from the program. I’ve seen some old friends, seen the family, revisited my high school haunts, had a general good time.