Story last updated at 7/8/2009 - 11:36 am
Editor's note: This is part of a series of essays about the experiences of AmeriCorps volunteers in Southeast Alaska. The author of the following essay asked to remain anonymous.
I joined Americorps looking for job experience and for a foot in the door in the town to which I was moving. Now that I'm at the end of my 11-month term of service in Juneau, I can say that I've gotten what I was looking for.
It's difficult to establish yourself in a new career, let alone in a new town. The job search can be brutal, especially during these times of hiring freezes and economic hardship. Though my 11-month position through SAGA connections isn't lucrative, it certainly has given me experience at a Juneau non-profit that I can use on my resumes and applications in the future.
Being an Americorps member has also helped me to benefit a new community, and through community service, I've been able to get to know the highs and lows of Juneau.
I really feel committed to my new home because I've been able to jump right into the community through the people that I've met and the agencies with which I've worked. I've been travelling through Alaska for several years, and my Americorps opportunity in Juneau has been so eye-opening to the experience of Alaskans and has made me feel like more of a true Alaskan myself.
When I joined SAGA, I didn't expect to be so challenged emotionally as I have been this year. Working at a crisis center has led me to really examine my own life and values, and I think I've worked harder here than I have at any job that I've had. Though I feel like I've really had the opportunity to make a difference in Juneau, and to learn about Juneau, I also feel humbled as a person to have been able to stand with people at their time of greatest need.
In addition, my service has given me a new direction in my life - I applied to graduate school this year and got in. I now know that I want to dedicate myself to being in Alaska and examining the social and community health problems that exist here. I'm so glad that I've been able to work for this short period of time in a field and in a place that is so amazing. I feel that I can now truly call Juneau my home and that I know where I want to be and what I want to do.
An Americorps term of service can give many intangible benefits, and I know that the experience will continue to benefit me as I work in the Juneau community.
The author is an AmeriCorps volunteer serving in Juneau.