VISTA Superpowers!

By Clarissa Goldsmith, Daniel Gerdes, & Ivy Estenson

At the risk of sounding pretentious, we on the humble blogging committee think it would be safe to say that being an AmeriCorps VISTA member is a lot like being a superhero. Sure, we’re not out stopping robot overlords or battling a fire demon summoned from the great beyond that’d like nothing more than to destroy I-94 and mess up the morning commute- but we are fighting. We’re fighting for people and communities. We’re battling against injustices. We’re doing what we can to make the world a better place. And at the core of it, isn’t that what being a superhero is all about? They’re not called the Justice League for nothing.

But sometimes it’s fun to imagine what it’d be like to be a different kind of superhero. You know, the cape-and-cowl kind, capable of extraordinary feats and vanquishing the impossible. With that in mind we, your humble blogging committee, asked our cohort members to tell us what their dream superpowers would be. And below, True Believers, are the answers:

Bianca: Invisibility

If I could have any superpower, it would be to have the ability to become invisible. I would use this power to spy on people, dropping in on meetings and classes when running late as if I was there the entire time. For fun, I would scare a lot of random people and play lots of tricks on friends and family. For example, my family is very superstitious and believes in ghost and spirits. I would imitate dead family members and pretend to haunt them.  For the community, I would play the community spy and drop in on classified governmental/ political meetings and share what was discussed, planned, and future plans regarding the community so that we would have the upper hand in society for once.

Emma: Talking to Animals

Ever since the Wild Thornberry’s became a hit, who hasn’t dreamed of being able to communicate with animals? From telling that one spider to GO AWAY to working with animals to tackling major environmental challenges, there is an endless list of how to use this power. In fact, one way I would love to use this power would be to translate between service animals and the folks they care for who live with PTSD.

Clarissa: Super Speed

Super speed is about a lot more than never having to ride the bus again or pay for airfare. It’s more than the thrill of running across oceans or up the side of a building. It’s not even about the theoretical possibility of time travel (okay, it may be a bit about that). No, super speed is about having the ability to stop tornados and sucking the oxygen from an out of control forest fire. It’s about vibrating through a crashing car and saving its occupants. It’s getting someone out of the way of a speeding bullet. Super speed is about not being constrained by the impossible. Instead, it’s a power of almost unlimited possibility. It’s about providing aid at faster than the speed of light.

Katie G: Teleportation

I would want teleportation. First off, I would use it to go anywhere at any time. During my younger years, I would never have been limited: “Sure mom, going to bed.” Boom. Basement watching cartoons and Family Matters. Then later in life, I can use it personally to travel, and communally to bring resources to people trapped in enclosed areas. Watch out Lassie, Timmy doesn’t need you down in the well anymore. Downside, I would never understand 90s standup comedy about airports. With great power, comes great responsibility.

Yana: Healing

If I had one superpower it would be the power to heal. This power would include the ability to heal other’s pains, not just my own.  I enjoy helping people feel the best they can so they can live their most authentic, happy, and healthiest version of themselves. This kind of healing superpower would go beyond the surface and mend what is broken underneath the skin.  I would love it if I could help make everyone feel better inside and out. Healing brings life and life is something to be joyful about.  

Coco: Shapeshifting

If I had a superpower, I would want the ability to shapeshift. Adaptability is the most salient quality required of most leaders in the 21st century, so this superpower would allow me to mold to any situation—I could change size, gender, I could shapeshift to acquire other powers altogether. This power would allow me to transgress all of the societal boxes we are asked to exist within. I would use this superpower to lead my work more empathetically thanks to my ability to see and experience the world through someone else’s eyes.

Daniel: Invisibility

If I was to have a superpower, I’d probably choose invisibility. Anyone who knows me knows I have a strong passion for helping others, but I have a tendency to shy away from taking credit for some of the good things I do. Invisibility would allow me to go completely unnoticed when I’m doing nice things for people. I don’t do nice things for people in order to make myself feel good – quite the opposite really. This superpower would allow me to avoid the awkward feelings I get when someone tries to recognize me for something I’ve done. Plus, introverted me would love to be able to go unnoticed, even while I’m in public.

Trent: Shapeshifting

Shapeshifting would give me the ability to adapt to any situation and utilize the many of abilities of any living organism. As a blue whale I could hold my breath for 90 minutes and explore the depths of the ocean. As an ant, I could lift and move objects weighing many times my own body weight. The range of possible abilities includes speed, echolocation, mimicry, etc. In a non-destructive manner the natural world would become my playground. Adaptability in any setting is important and shapeshifting would not only let me see the world from different perspectives, but be able to solve any problem in a multitude of settings.

Ivy: Control Time

If I had a superpower, I would choose the ability to stop time. I would want this superpower for two reasons: first, there have been moments in my life where I wish I could just bask in the moment of how perfect everything is, and I just want to be able to freeze and take it all in. Secondly, I like to be able to process things on my own time. If I could pause in the middle of a heated debate, I could think up a zinger of a comeback, press “play” and let ‘em have it. I would stop time for a minute, an hour, or an entire day. I wouldn’t want to have the ability to fast-forward or reverse time because I believe there is power in recognizing the important moments in life as they happen. If I can remain present and notice which moments in life are the ones I will cherish forever, then staying there for a couple more minutes wouldn’t hurt.

Brigit: Reality Jumping

My superpower would be the ability to jump between different realities and alternate universes.  I would use it when I’m bored or seeking inspiration for things or just wanting to go experience some place totally new that I could never experience on our earth. For fun, I’d find the realities that are really awesome like maybe where there are unicorns or everyone is a talking sentient dragon.  I’d use it to help the community by getting inspiration from how all these different worlds and people relate to each other and the problems that they face so maybe I could solve similar problems here. I could also use it to show people how good/bad things can get if we act or fail to act in our own world.  For my personal life, it would definitely spice up all my social media and maybe I’d check out the dating scene in various realities.

Devan: Control the Weather

Controlling the weather is unquestionably the ideal power. Do you hate walking to work in the rain? Problem solved. Are you upset that you wore your favorite sweater during a surprise heatwave? Also solved. Does it grind your gears when developing nations have to spend their limited resources on the aftermath of natural disasters? Don’t even worry about it. The ability to combat droughts, hurricanes and probably even global warming would make you the solution to some of the planet’s most pressing issues. At the very least, you can combat humanity’s natural enemy: humidity. That one will make you a national hero at the very least. Weather is one of the few things that applies to everybody all the time and with the power to control it, you have the potential to make everybody’s life at least a little better.

Sofi: Omnilingualism

If I could have a superpower I would want to be omnilingual, or in other words, the ability to quickly memorize and decipher any foreign language. I would use this all the time, especially in the communities that we serve. Right now, our organization serves a very diverse group of people where English is not their first language and they don’t always get paired with a counselor that speaks their first language. I would use my powers to translate and interpret for them and their counselor so that they receive the services that they need without miscommunications or added frustration. I am actually bilingual in Spanish and English and that has been incredibly helpful as a non-super human so when I imagine being able to speak and understand ANY language that makes me really excited! In my personal life I would use this mostly when I travel to other countries. I would love to be able to go anywhere at any time and communicate effectively with anyone I meet. The best thing about this superpower is that I could travel, help people and learn without limits.

Katie M: Super Hacking

If I could have a superpower, it would be the ability to hack everything and anything (and have them go unchanged, afterwards) and go undetected. I would use this power to redirect funds in large corporations, make CEO’s take pay cuts, redistribute pay, make sure they are being ethical- and change that if they’re not. I’d also hack banks and give funds to people that need it the most. I’d lower interest rates. I’d give more money to community organizations that were doing really good work. I would expose bad people’s secrets. I’d use it for myself to obtain more money, pay off my debt, and to get myself a job. I just want to be a modern day Robin Hood.

Mike: Mind Reading

If I could choose a superpower, my choice would absolutely be mind reading. Not that I want to know every detail of everyone’s inner monologue (I’m bored by my own sometimes), but I do want to be able to know how anyone is feeling or reacting to a situation, and know that for certain. In a state where the dominant culture is very much one of masking and deflecting those emotions and gut thoughts, being able to cut through that would be immensely helpful for me in both personal and professional realms. I think a lot of us strive toward that level of empathy, but the fact remains that we can never be absolutely sure, nor can we completely understand each other when we have to rely on our often fallible language to express those thoughts. It’s not exactly a flashy superpower, or one that would make me particularly adept at saving the world from supervillains, but it would let me help make the world’s most boring superhero movie.

Leanny: Time Travel

Time travel would be the ultimate super power. There’s tons of reasons why I would go back in time: to relive beautiful moments, be with loved ones that are no longer alive, and to right my wrongs. As a VISTA, I would use time travel to help the people we serve at my site. I would help the GED students get a second chance at taking the test and passing by helping them study better, or I would take them to a time when they were with their families back in their home lands before immigrating to the U.S. There is so much good you could do with that superpower. Time travel would be a second chance at doing things right, which would make life a whole lot easier.