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Reflections from a VISTA Leader

By: Samie Burnett, Alliance AmeriCorps VISTA Leader

Choosing to serve as a VISTA member gives you a different approach and outlook when it comes to helping youth and the community. With direct service you are placed right in the playing field, learning as you go. Sometimes, it is hard to know where to start with direct service and that is how I felt, at first. The decision to become a VISTA member, specifically a VISTA Leader, was so that I can learn how things work behind the scenes. I wanted to know what it felt like not serving directly with the youth and community. I found this beneficial to me because I would be able to learn and grasp what was going indirectly to help paint a better picture for me when it came to my direct service. I wanted to build my leadership skills and find new ways to build my confidence but also my professional skills.

As a VISTA Leader I have gained a significant amount of skills; the most important one being my professional skills. I am now; more comfortable sending out emails than I was before. I have learned how to create agendas, became trained in the circle process, been on site visits and so much more. I can speak more comfortably in trainings, especially, the ones that I lead. As a VISTA, you learn to create new ways to end the cycles of poverty. You help to find the solutions that will then be used to help the youth and the communities being served. VISTA gives you the tools to help build capacity and find equitable ways to benefit communities in need, whereas with direct service it might not be as easily accessible. Which is something that I struggled with. Now that I have the added skills I know that I would be better equipped to helping my community because I have a sense of direct and indirect service skills helping me to see both sides of service.

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