2018-2019 CCNYPA*VISTA Cohort and some of the CCNYPA staff
Service Orientation for the 2018-2019 CCNYPA*VISTA Cohort took place this year at Keystone College from July 30th to August 1st. This three day event is where the 40 CCNYPA*VISTA members were able to meet in person for the first time to begin their year of service together. During Service Orientation, members were introduced to Campus Compact and their role as a VISTA. There were several professional development workshops that provided members with the tools they needed to start the year off successfully. The cohort was able to begin building meaningful relationships with fellow VISTA members and the CCNYPA staff through team enhancing activities. Service Orientation is an impactful experience for the VISTAs and sets the tone for their service year.
VISTA Perspectives on Service Orientation
My Experience at Service Orientation
By Javier Videla – 8/28/2018
In my view, Service Orientation started the moment one of my fellow VISTAs, a stranger back then, picked me up to drive to Scranton, PA. I remember feeling nervous about meeting all of the people whose faces I had seen on a screen during the introductory webinars. The nervousness was totally in vain because the moment I got in the car with Hannah, I could already tell what a kind, good-hearted person she is. Most of my nerves were a thing of the past now and as we made our way through the gorgeous Pennsylvania scenery, the conversation got more and more interesting. We talked about the prospect of ending poverty, empowering minorities, social change, and animal welfare, among other things. I remember thinking: “We seem to have a lot in common”. That feeling was a constant during Service Orientation. After a three-hour-long drive we arrived to Keystone College, where a handful of friendly faces were there to meet us all and make us feel welcomed. One by one, the members of the 18-19 cohort kept arriving: Alexandria, Aaron, Katie, Lupe, and Shemeca, just to name a few. Our cohort is especially big because it is the first year that the Pennsylvania Campus Compact and the New York Campus Compact have joined their forces to serve the community. There were plenty of chances to do fun activities and get to meet everyone, but there were also lots of talks about the quality of the jobs we had all signed up to do. I found these lectures especially helpful because I was not sure how to start tackling all of the problems that my community faces. There were workshops on Volunteer Mobilization and Resource Development, Team Building and Leadership, Capacity Building and Sustainability, Equitable Economic Development; all of them crucial when it comes to being a VISTA. Time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to go back home; but this time with a whole new set of like-minded friends and a deeper understanding of how to serve as a Volunteer in Service to America!
CCNYPA Service Orientation Experience
By Francis Milliano
My service orientation this year coming back as Year 2 VISTA was completely different from the previous year. Both of the service orientations were amazing but also completely different from one another. During the first year as a VISTA my cohort was smaller and all females. This year my cohort is double the size from the previous year, coed, and is more diverse in experiences, ages, and backgrounds.
The experience this year was just as amazing as the previous year. Coming back for a second year I was a bit nervous to see how different the cohort would be. Although this year’s cohort is completely different from the previous year, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and made good friends in a short period of time. Overall, I enjoyed the experience! Meeting individuals who have a love for serving others just helped motivate me even more for the year, reminded me why I decided to serve as a VISTA, and why I decided to serve another year.
There are multiple reasons why I decided to serve as a VISTA. One of the reasons I decided to serve as a VISTA was because I wanted to get experience in the field before returning back to school to pursue a Master’s Degree. I wasn’t very unsure what I wanted to study and being a VISTA allowed me the time to research different studies that I may be interested in. Along with the time to explore my next steps after serving as a VISTA, I decided to serve as a VISTA because of the objective of my project. The project focuses on providing college and career readiness programming and exposure to high school students’ grades 9th-12th. I’ve had experience in this kind of programming since I attended high school and due to my participation in these sort of programs I have had many positive and everlasting experiences that I cherish and have also gained many mentors who play an important role in my life.
Giving students hope and teaching them about the many opportunities that are available to them is and has been a very rewarding experience. My passion for helping students has followed me from high school, throughout my undergraduate years and even now as a VISTA and has been one of the main reasons why I decided to serve as a VISTA and to return for a second year.
Serving as a VISTA in the CCNYPA cohort has many meanings. It means being part of a cohort who understands what you may be going through in your position, helping push and motivate you during those tough times, but also celebrating your successes with you. Being a part of this cohort introduces you to and educates you on many issues related to education, economic development, healthy futures and military and veteran that are occurring within our states that we may not have been aware of. Being a part of this cohort not only teaches you about different issues but also different perspectives. The cohort is a safe place where VISTAs can open up and discuss any given topic without the fear of judgement. We all push each other to work hard! I’ve had the privilege last year to be a part of an amazing cohort and I am looking forward to learning more about the individuals in this year’s cohort and seeing how much I grow throughout the year.
Welcome to the CCNYPA*VISTA Blog, written for VISTAs, by VISTAs!