AmeriCorps Service: A Life-Long Lesson
August 2022 marks my second anniversary with AmeriCorps! As I get closer to this anniversary, I wanted to take the time to reflect on these two years with Americorps and Campus Compact for New Hampshire (CCNH). In August 2020, I started as a COVID-19 Recovery AmeriCorps Member for CCNH. As a South Florida native, my first time in New England (let alone New Hampshire) was when I moved here to start my service. I was fresh out of college and entered a world plagued with uncertainty due to the pandemic. As a COVID-19 Recovery Member, I had a steep learning curve; I was tasked with learning about a new area of the country. From the education system of the tri-state area to finding community partners tasked with combating the spread of COVID-19, I felt incredibly overwhelmed and underqualified in those first few months.
As time went on, I learned more about the communities around me, the power of public health, and the inner workings of this novel virus. I became more confident in my ability to build capacity around this issue and found creative ways to disseminate important information. One way I was able to do this was with the Four” C” able Future: Campus Compact COVID Convos podcast I created with my counterpart in Maine. Through that experience, I learned how to collaborate on a range of topics that allowed me to connect with experts and AmeriCorps members in my community.
As August 2021 was approaching, I decided I did not want to leave New Hampshire just yet. I wanted to continue my service and do a second year with Campus Compact for New Hampshire. Now in my second year, I am an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader. Through this role I have been able to learn so much more about the communities I work alongside and connect with my cohort in a way I did not think was possible. From creating and facilitating DEIA workshops to making sustainability resources, I have been able to fine-tune skills I see myself using in future opportunities. As an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, I have been able to cultivate a leadership style that centers the AmeriCorps members, their experiences, and their interests. Through identity-centered Affinity groups, I have been able to create another virtual space where members can connect and learn from one another.
Throughout my service, I have learned so much about myself and the communities in Northern New England. My AmeriCorps VISTA service has taught me the importance of flexibility, resiliency, and community connections. As I finalize future plans, I hope to go abroad and take these lessons with me. One important lesson I hope to take with me is the importance of my perspective and the power of storytelling. My AmeriCorps experience has made me more aware of my voice in professional spaces. I have become more cognizant of the need to give space in conversations and work within the community culture I live in. I hope to take these teachings with me when I go abroad and continue shaping the skills I cultivated as an AmeriCorps member in New Hampshire.
Arria Hauldin (She/Her) is the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the CCNH College Access and Success AmeriCorps program. During her time in New Hampshire, she has learned to embrace the snow, wind, and sunshine of the Granite state!