McKenzie Wright – Refugee Orientation Services VISTA

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What is AmeriCorps? Why am I here? What am I actually going to do? Why JFS? These are some of the common questions all VISTAS ask themselves. I definitely asked myself these questions for months before and after I started. Needless to say, I have been able to find some kind of answer in the wild year it has been, usually over lunch.

That’s kind of a funny thing, but seriously food is the best way to connect. I learned so much by just sitting down with families and talking with them. My first meal with a family I had only met them once, in the office.  I was so nervous; I had no idea what to say. (Granted it was my second week and I had never worked with refugees before). As the [obviously delicious] food came out and we started eating, we began sharing stories and connecting in more ways than I thought. I realized you can learn more about people if you sit at the table and share, not only food but about yourself.

For the last 9 months I have been able to have some amazing experiences, many of which involved meals. Throughout this time AmeriCorps and JFS have helped me reach personal and professional goals as well as develop tools and skills I might not have been able to learn elsewhere. I not only taught refugees and developed sustainable curriculum, but through these experiences I learned from people and built relationships.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch

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