3 months as a FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA

This has been quite a year for me.

Currently, I’m serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with FIRST, an international nonprofit aimed to inspire students in science and technology through robotics competitions. I started serving at the end of August. This is a one-year experience in which I have the opportunity to create and sustain robotics teams in underserved communities. I am serving alongide two wonderful women, Clare and Nickita. Our site supervisor is also an exceptional example of what is means to be a supportive site supervisor.

The VISTA year is said to be long and hard. My experience has been no exception to this rule. That said, I am gaining so much experience with community organizing and capacity-building. I’m actually planning a mock robotics competition that should kickoff in the next couple of months. This is an exciting project that I’ve undertaken with the help of staff at the Eastside Promise Neighborhood. I can’t say enough good things about the people I have been working with at EPN.

So far, I have had my ups and downs. Luckily, the support I receive from FIRST has been phenomenal. However, being a community organizer for FIRST (which largely supports the use of proprietary software/hardware) has been difficult for me. It is a good way for me gain exposure to the types of STEM programs that currently exist in the U.S., but I constantly wonder how these programs can be improved in terms of expanding their use of free (open) educational resources.

For now, I’ll keep planning for this mock competition and experience everything as it unfolds. Look out for another AmeriCorps update in a few months!