By Yen Nguyen, Dream Project AmeriCorps member
It was a year ago. I had two more weeks until I graduated from college. I should have felt happy and excited to embark on a new chapter of my life, but all I could feel was a sense of dread and fear. I had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated. I wasn’t going to grad school and the job offers weren’t exactly pouring in.
Janis and Dylan, the previous AmeriCorps, made an announcement saying that they were looking for the next AmeriCorps for Dream Project. Now, I didn’t know much about AmeriCorps, but I knew that 1) I wanted to continue with the Dream Project, and 2) this would be a great learning experience for me.
August 1st rolled around and to tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited to meet my AmeriCorps partner and start supporting mentors.
What can I say about Amrita, my AmeriCorps partner? She is my partner-in-crime, the yin to my yang, the good cop to my bad cop. I am so lucky to have a co-worker that is so compatible with me. And she has amazing baking skills. What more could I want?
As for the mentors and leaders, I am constantly in awe of them. Seeing these amazing mentors with such passion, dedication and commitment, makes me fall in love with this job day after day.
Looking back after 10 months of being an AmeriCorps member, it has been a whirlwind.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming. The phone is constantly ringing, mentors wanting add codes, the signs for an event need to be made, a high school lead needs help with bringing their food to the loading dock. And this is all before 9:00am.
Sometimes it can be humbling when a mentor or leader comes to me asking for advice or confiding in me.
Sometimes, with all the crazy events that we do, it’s worth it to see a student hit submit on their application at AWW, or fall in love with UW when they attend Spring BBQ, or receive a scholarship at Live the Dream.
From the late nights to the long hours to the endless debates on whether we should have something laminated or not to the endless printing of name tags, it’s all worth it.
So, here we are, 10 months later. When people ask Amrita and I, “so what is it that you guys actually do?” We would look over at each other with a knowing glance and a smile on our face. To let you guys in on a secret: most of the time,
But the beauty of being a Dream Project AmeriCorps is that we got to learn. It has been an amazing learning experience. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to be a better mentor. I listen first and constantly ask questions. I understand that support comes in many shapes and forms. Support can be from listening to a mentor about their struggles in a class to helping a high school lead reserve a room.
To all the mentors, leaders, and staff, I just want to tell you all:
To the next AmeriCorps member: being a Dream Project AmeriCorps is like being on a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs and sometimes it turns you on your head. And everything happens in a blur. But embrace it, because it will be the ride of a lifetime.