VISTA Retreat

At my Good Works for Colorado Youths (CYCA) conference, I learned a lot and met many new people. During the conference we were encouraged to take different sessions that may help us in our year as a Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA). The sessions I found most interesting and that would be helpful to me included “Living on a Budget,” “Green Living,” and “Poverty In-Depth.”

The class that most benefited me and that I believed I could bring back to ELK was the ”Poverty In-Depth” course. This course provided me with insight about how to relate to different types if poverty (socioeconomic status, age, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, sex, etc). Because of the population that ELK works with, inner city urban youth, I know that we have to deal with a lot of students and families who are in poverty and in need. It is very important to know how to approach a student or family in need, know how to support them in the appropriate way, and know boundaries. This workshop helped me recognize the types of support and the boundaries. This will be a great benefit for me and for ELK.

Now there were some extra activities that I enjoyed outside of the classes we took. The first was a presentation from a group called Peacejam. There was an amazing speaker that gave us so much insight into his life and what Peacejam was all about. It was really inspiring to know that there are people in the world who care about what I think and the other youth and young adults in the world. And more than just caring, they are fighting to do something about it, and make us heard. Then there were African Drummers that performed at the conference. They gave instruments to the audience and allowed us to participate. We had a blast and it really showed what it takes to come together as a team. At first we were all off beat and had no rhythm as a group. But after some time we all found a common rhythm. It resonated with me that even though I may not know half the people in the room, we all have a common rhythm. We are all here to serve America in some fashion and we came together at this retreat to learn how we can do it better and how we can do it together.

I am glad that I made it to this retreat and that I met so many new people. It gave me an opportunity to network and build relationships I would have never had if I had not attended. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with the people and organization that I do. If I could change it all, I wouldn’t.

-Chiquita Cole {22}