Seattle Works

A blog that documents all things Seattle Works…and much much more!

Tegan and Kathleen go to georgia! January 6, 2011

Filed under: Our Team — seattleworks @ 7:08 pm
Tags: ,

In the three months we’ve been here, we (Tegan and Kathleen) have discovered that there are a lot of perks about being AmeriCorps members.  Other than the obvious—a job at Seattle Works—we’ve stumbled upon discounted memberships at the YMCA and a free t-shirt here and there.  But maybe the most exciting AmeriCorps perk so far has been the HandsOn Network’s National AmeriCorps Conference in Georgia that we attended at the beginning of November. 

When we found out that we were being flown to Atlanta for a conference, we were both excited for the possibilities that our first “business trip” would bring.  When we found out we would be participating in team building activities like Global Village, a poverty simulation experience, and a ropes course, we were even more excited (and a little hesitant).  In exchange for the Marriott Hotel digs that usually come with conferences, we were placed in cabins, each of us claiming one of the seven bunk beds available.  Between presentations, we ate in a mess hall and had numerous camp fires complete with s’mores. Welcome to Camp AmeriCorps. 

 

Our first unique experience, Global Village, gave us a tiny glimpse into the lives of people living in poverty in developing countries.  We ate very little, were assigned manual labor tasks such as wall construction or brick making and slept in huts modeled after Haitian villages.  Unfortunately, Atlanta was experiencing “unseasonably cold” weather, so we endured a very chilly night sleeping practically outside in below freezing temperatures.  Burrrr. 

While one day and night living in simulated poverty definitely does not paint the whole picture, it did raise some important questions for us to reflect on: 

How valuable is the idea of hope? 

Did the fact that we saw our way out make it easier to endure?   

Could I have had the energy to build a fire and prepare a meal if I were alone after a long day? 

How important is community, in both the practical sense and in terms of emotional support? 

Ultimately, Global Village didn’t give us all of the answers about the realities of poverty, but it inspired important moments of reflection on the basic things we take for granted and illuminated why it’s so important to foster a sense of hope and caring in all of our communities. 

After some ample time for rest and some more Georgia sweet tea, we were onto our next challenge: THE ROPES COURSE.  Neither of us had done a ropes course since we were in middle school (somehow it seemed easier back then).  After climbing to heights of 40 feet and swinging from various ropes and wooden obstacles, we both awoke the next morning with some sore muscles we didn’t even know existed. It was a rewarding team building experience that showed how something as simple as going a little higher than you thought you could can be a really empowering moment.  Just think how it relates to our Lead programming—encouraging people to take the next step in volunteering can be hard, but when people do take on the challenge, they are often met with rewarding leadership experiences.

Overall, the “Camp AmeriCorps” conference was a success!  We met interesting people from all across the country, and were inspired by HandsOn Network’s suggestions for making the most out of our years’ of service.  Between the excitement of the outdoors, we learned about some valuable resources and tools for getting people engaged that we hope to bring to the Seattle Works table in the coming months.  Keep an eye out for some of those things around MLK Jr. Day!

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