Gari niam. Lekkel. Mangez. Kay lanu an. Eat. Eat. Come, we’re eating lunch. Calls to food, calls to family. Invitations- in a myriad of languages- to be together, work together, eat together. This is what I remember from my family and teachers in Senegal. A year full of days living with these words and greetings and values was enough to convince me of the power of food, importance of family, and value of patience in making sustainable, positive change in the world and in myself.
I was drawn to AmeriCorps VISTA for all of the practical reasons: recent college graduate tired of making lattés, in search of professional development opportunities, and faced with encroaching loan payments. But what really convinced me that this position was right for me was that it was a platform for me to engage with so many of my passions and interests – food, women’s empowerment, cultural exchange, community, language, fighting poverty- all in the breathtaking northwest- doesn’t get much better than that.
Project Feast is unique. We are a nonprofit/ social enterprise hybrid, we are a start-up, and we are a four-person team. We work in a community center and in a co working space, in a cubicle and in a commercial kitchen. I’m bouncing around doing different projects all the time like creating outreach materials and going to career fairs for Tukwila parents, editing commercial kitchen skills curriculum to better suite adult English language learners, reading about how to use instagram effectively to promote a catering business, and teaching myself the language of customer relationship management software. It’s a whirlwind! While it is exhilarating to create things from scratch, take personal initiative, and have a say in the direction and vision of an organization, it is also at times scary and challenging to thrive with little direction, be assigned a task I really don’t know how to do, and work with people from around the world with different backgrounds, experiences, communication styles, and needs. But so is life, and so is the life of an AmeriCorps VISTA. Sometimes moving forward, often questioning my next and last move, always learning.