Programs and Communications Associate SVPGT/AmeriCorps VISTA
When you’ve lived in a river town amongst pine trees and lush green lawns for over 20 years, the desert feels like an alien planet. On the last leg of my westward journey from Columbus, GA to Tucson, AZ, I conceded that, although 1,800 miles is a great distance in a tiny Cavalier crammed with all my worldly possessions, I might as well have been a million miles from home. At 75mph(ok 85mph on those long, straight stretches of road-my foot may be made of lead), I sat back and watched as the Great American Landscapes unfolded around me.
But, as anyone who has ever relocated to begin a new chapter in life can attest, the geographical changes, marvelous as they are, are only the setting in which personal changes can occur: emotional, spiritual, social, physical, intellectual.
I had considered joining AmeriCorps after graduating high school. But I opted instead to go to college first. I graduated from Wesleyan College in May. And, in the back of my mind somewhere, AmeriCorps was there, willing me to fill out the lengthy application, and JUST APPLY ALREADY!
But I wasn’t ready. Wasn’t willing. Things were in the way. People were in the way. I was in the way.
Have you ever had the itch to serve? In Georgia, we have mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes. And I am always the magnet (heard it’s a blood type thing- mine, ironically, is “B(e)-Positive”). When I am covered head to toe in bites after a Fourth of July picnic or a warm summer night in the park, itching like crazy, I grab some ointment to soothe the red bumps. And it goes away. The mosquito itch.
The itch to serve doesn’t go away so easily. Is there an ointment for the itch to serve? If there was, I would probably still be home, working hard to save up money, looking desperately for a “real” job as a recent graduate when most companies want someone with at least 5 years of experience (someone please tell me and my fellow graduates where we can get 5 years experience doing anything besides flipping burgers!). I would be there, getting by, wishing I was doing what I have known I was meant to do since I was a child: serve others.
This opportunity to build capacity and support Social Venture Partners Greater Tucson to promote literacy fell into place for me at the perfect time. That doesn’t mean it has been an easy move. But even as I doubted the sanity of my decision to drive across the country alone, all my belongings in my car, to a place that I knew nothing about to serve a year commitment, I knew that it was right. That this was it. Nothing left to hold me back. Nothing stopping me but myself.
“Self,” I said, “Move over. Sit back. Enjoy the ride. And if God wants you there, he’ll get you there. Just hold-up your end: Just drive.”