August 12, 2019

As I near the end of my first year of service, I’m looking at this paper and quite frankly I’m at a loss to capture it all. There have been numerous things that have had an impact on me both large and small. There have been days of questions like, “ what am I doing?” and days of breakthroughs where a small encounter helps me feel reassured that I am in the right place at the right time.

I’m late writing this mostly because of all the summer activities that have been happening at the Fort. We have had two of our own summer camps, the annual 4th at the Fort even, and numerous days and multiple times per day of other area summer camps being involved with many exhibits at the Fort, I sit and look at that and think of all the lives I’ve had 1-3 hours to impact.

Most days, I spend being watchful, caring, warm and educational. I find myself most comfortable with the individuals dealing with some degree of autism or other learning deficiency. They tend to be my favorite, mostly because when there is finally a breakthrough it’s such a great victory and I can share in their joy and build that bond with them.

One of my happiest moments has been in getting my new tame tag at the Fort.  It no longer says, “AmeriCorps” it says “Volunteer” a title I earned through sweat, long days and weeks, countless programs and wild days with even more wild children.  I now am finishing up the Legacy, a few more pages some touches to a few pieces here and there.  It is truly a legacy, we have built awesome partnerships, programs and ideas.  I have found new ways to bring the stories of the Fort to children that allows them to connect through art to those have been stationed here or imprisoned here.

I still believe that the service is the greatest reward but beyond that I have come to appreciate the smallest hellos, the opportunity to help someone who may not be exactly the demographic of student looking for college access. I find a great amount of joy in the days where I can give an impromptu tour of an exhibit and open someone’s eyes. I interpret well, I use my voice and energy to captivate the audience I use visceral words to bring the emotion right to the core of the audience. I want them to connect to the story, I want them to feel what the people in the Bella Vista Concentration Camp felt, how the people who traveled west during the expansion, the Natives who felt such pain and anguish at the loss of culture and land. I want them to feel Corporal Howards extreme tale of Vietnam and how it on a much larger scale than just he affected our country so deeply that we are still following policies written then.

At the museum, I have made a small home, a bag of preferred coffee in the freezer, my hot fries on the shelf, lunch in the fridge, the front desk volunteers who have met my family and I. The list goes on for how I have built such a place of belonging here. I’ll miss the fort but I’ll be here when I can afford to be and when I can manage a second year of AmeriCorps with wanting to still be active at the Fort. I am grateful for this experience and hopeful for what the future will bring during my next year of service with Broader Impacts.