We here at C3 are halfway through our year of service. We took a break from the data entry and the other day to day tasks to look back at the highlights of the first half of our year.
I often think of change as a gardening metaphor. First you must till the soil. Then you plant the seed. Afterwards you water the soil and hope for sunshine. Finally, sometimes you see a little plant sprout up. For 11/12 of our VISTAs they are the first VISTA member to be hosted by their site. This means that the first months are often about tilling the soil, and can be frustrating when the way we measure progress is in terms of how many plants have grown.
Much of capacity building though is creating soil that can self regenerate. Within these success stories lives the potential for these successes to becoming everyday happenings. A success of incorporating students into interview processes of staff will someday seem like an everyday occurrence, stretching this success on for many years to come! Okay, that is stretching the metaphor a little far…
Enough for my literary devices- please read below for some VISTA success stories!
VISTA Site: Project for Pride in Living
VISTA: Raquel Arismendez
A group of students at one of our schools felt empowered enough to assert themselves and demand a voice in the hiring process for new staff. Now, during the interview process, any potential new staff have to be interviewed by a panel of students as well. Not only are the students now developing a deeper understanding of the interview process by being on the other side of the table, they are also advocating on behalf of their own education as well. One of the students who spearheaded this is on the Youth Governing Board I created.
VISTA Site: Project for Pride in Living
VISTA: Sarah Reiter
I am most proud of the work I’ve done preparing and rolling out the LEAP Internship program through PPL. My supervisor gave me an extremely tight timeline to create a process for hiring and training interns. Interns applied, were interviewed, and were trained in a little over a week. I designed the application, collected information of candidates, maintained communications with supervisors and candidates, designed an intern handbook, designed a training program and a powerpoint to go with the training, compiled all useful documents for the attendees of training into a folder, and conducted a pilot training including speaking and facilitating small group activities. I presented to around 10 people. The youth were so fun and engaging. I am confident that I established a good relationship with the interns. I had an amazing experience doing it and I got great feedback from my supervisor and the attendees. The youth interns thanked me before leaving. I left that session on cloud 9. Next, I will build additional capacity around this internship program, design and analyze evaluations, and host a mid-quarter check-in with the interns. This is a big project with a lot of responsibility and I am grateful and proud to have been able to take it on.
VISTA Site: Venture Academy
I held a successful focus group, co-hosted by our school leader (principal). I was able to connect with 7 of our tutors and hear their stories about connecting with students and growing as educators. As a VISTA I am unable to do direct service, so it is nice to live vicariously through my volunteers and hear about their experiences. I was happy to realize that I was right to plan a focus group – I had tried many different methods of data collection to collect volunteer experiences (surveys, one-on-one meetings, etc.) but when the tutors were gathered together and could talk to each other instead of just to me, they spoke freely and I was able to hear about the good and the bad simultaneously.
VISTA Site: Youthlink
VISTA: Mychie Yang
I am most proud of the development of the Workforce One manual. The manual required me to connect with a variety of staff to clarify various roles and processes. These conversations helped me gain insights into what I should include in the manual so that it can be the most helpful and useful at my site. The manual is still being put together, but I feel very successful in this project.
We at C3 Twin Cities look forward to more great stories of service through the year and hope that these successes will multiply throughout the year. Check back on our blog for updates of Mychie’s manual, how Hannah will implement the feedback from Venture’s tutors, and how the Youth Governing Board at PPL impacts hiring practices for years to come!