THE VISTA VERSE
Volume 2 Issue 8
The Vista Verse
IN THIS ISSUE
Welcome new VISTA Members! Serita is the Resource Development VISTA at the United Way of Weld County. She is a native of Upstate New York and graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Hospitality and Service Management. Outside of being a VISTA, Serita enjoys biking, snowboarding, her dogs, cooking, and reading. After her service year Serita plans to return to graduate school, but for now is enjoying being a VISTA in Colorado!
VISTA Ally describes the first refugee simulation at the Global Refugee Center Page 3
Miguel is the Vista working at the Arc of Weld County. He recently moved to Colorado for his third time. His previous time in Colorado was spent in Denver. Miguel has an Associate of Arts degree from New Mexico State University in his hometown Alamogordo; where he was also Substitute teacher from 2002 to 2008. Miguel is currently finishing up a Bachelorâ€™s degree in Interdisciplinary studies at Western Kentucky University. His degree's emphasis is in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Miguel's hobbies include: cooking, rock music, and research. Miguel hopes to use his education and experiences to become a guidance counselor later on down the road.
A VISTA Farewell to our six departing members Page 4
THE VISTA VERSE | Issue 8
Happening in August August 15 – Schools Cannot Do It Alone author Jamie Vollmer discussion and luncheon at Island Grove Event Center, 12:00-1:30pm. Register online at www.greeleychamber.com/business
The Arc of Weld County joined the United Way of Weld County VISTA Project in July 2012. The Arc of Weld County is a grassroots, non-profit organization committed to creating opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The goals are to ensure the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, to include them as contributing members of the team that develop plans for their lives, and to enhance the overall quality of their lives. Miguel, the first VISTA at the Arc of Weld County, will build capacity and sustainability through developing programs and fundraising. For more information on the Arc of Weld County, please visit www.arcweldcounty.org.
August 22 – New VISTA Orientation and VISTA Panel Q&A at 4:00pm August 23 – VISTA Monthly Meeting, United Way, 9:00am August 24 – Last day for August VISTA members
August 15 –VISTA Farewell Party for August members, United Way Ponderosa Room, 4:00-6:00
August 24 – Friday Fest w/ Reverend Hooch, downtown Greeley 6:00pm
August 17 – Friday Fest w/ Deb Stafford & Stone Soup, downtown Greeley, 6:00pm
August 24 – FREE Live music at the Kress 8:30pm and movie: Dark City 10:00pm
August 17 – FREE Live music at the Kress 8:30pm and movie: Romancing the Stone 9:30pm
August 25 – The Global Refugee Center has teamed up with the Arc Thrift Store for a Fill A Truck Fundraiser. Bring your gently used clothing, furniture, household items, and more to help raise money to support programs that help refugees achieve self-sufficiency! Location: 1424 13th Ave, 9:00am-6:00pm and August 26 – 9:00am-4:00pm
August 18 – Greeley Transitional House Garage Sale - Come help homeless families by supporting the Greeley Transitional House Garage Sale. 1206 10th Street Greeley, 7:00am-1:00pm August 18 – The Heritage Festival in Estes Park celebrates history through musical events on stage, heritage demonstrations, crafts, a petting zoo, and wagon rides, 10:00am-5:00pm and August 19 – 10:00am-4:00pm August 19 – FREE Movie at the Kress: Rear Window 7:00pm August 20 – New VISTA members start!
August 26 – FREE Movie at the Kress: Back to the Future 7:00pm August 31 – FREE Live music at the Kress 8:30pm and movie: Mystery Men 10:00pm August 31 – Friday Fest w/ The Modnicks, downtown Greeley 6:00pm
THE VISTA VERSE | Issue 8
Experiencing "A Walk in Their Shoesâ€? by
Ally Walker, VISTA, Global Refugee Center
A report from the GRC's first refugee simulation The Global Refugee Center's first refugee simulation and awareness event, "A Walk in Their Shoes," took place on Saturday, July 14th and gave 60 Greeley residents a taste of what life is like as a refugee. The event required imagination and saw all participants transformed for the simulation into refugees. New refugees were grouped into families and given a family biography that they embodied for the duration of
the event. The families first experienced what it was like to escape their homes and be separated from their families by being blindfolded, disoriented, spread far from their families and told to find each other. The new refugee families reported feeling lonely, afraid, confused, and anxious during this portion of the simulation, all of which are common emotions felt by real refugees when they are forced by violence (or other forms of persecution) to flee their homes. Next, the families found temporary shelter under GRC's playground equipment. These were uncomfortable, cramped, and hot
places however they provided a relatively safe respite for the families who were exhausted, hungry, and scared. Because the families did not know how long they would have to wait in the shelter, the atmosphere was tense. While waiting, each family received cards depicting an incident that happened to a family member during their escape, such as a broken arm, blindness, or shock. Familes had to personify the handicap for the rest of the simulation. Handicaps, uncomfortable surroundings, and anxiousness are typical reactions real refugees face in addition to continual threats to their safety with no knowledge when their situation will improve. After waiting in their temporary shelter, the refugees were allowed to cross the border. Before doing so, they had to fill out a form completely and correctly in a language they did not understand. When their forms were finished, refugees saw border agents who could not speak their language and who almost always turned them away without explanation. After numerous attempts, much confusion, and frustration at not understanding what was required of them, all refugees made it across the border to the refugee camp. Participants found this portion of the simulation to be very engaging as everyone
experienced the irritation, bewilderment, and exasperation that refugees face when they attempt to cross the border to a new country. Finally, the refugees made their way to their new home in the refugee camp. After receiving a list of available supplies to choose from such as tents, water, food, and cooking materials necessary to begin rebuilding their lives, all were informed that only water was available and a limited supply at that. Participants were hot, tired, thirsty, and disappointed that they could not get more than a cup of water for their families. The refugee families at "A Walk in Their Shoes" learned from their experience that life as a refugee is taxing, anxiety-provoking, and confusing; days are filled with waiting, not knowing where to go or what the next turn will hold, and an utter uncertainty at what their new lives look like. Despite these experiences, real refugees in Greeley have shown true resilience in the face of such odds and are continually striving to create better lives in America. By experiencing some of the feelings and situations that real refugees have gone through, participants at "A Walk in Their Shoes" have begun to build a foundation of awareness that will help create a sense of mututal understanding and respect between the refugee population and the Greeley community. Together, we can all take steps to promote positive social change in our community.
THE VISTA VERSE | Issue 8
A VISTA Farewell Annmarie What a year this has been, it is amazing how fast twelve months can fly by! This experience has truly been a journey and I feel I have travelled far since beginning last August. I remember moving across the country last summer with my car packed to the roof and a stomach full of butterflies. I was excited, anxious, nervous, and curious all at the same time. I didn’t know what would be in store for me over the next year as a Vista, but thinking back I can smile happily with where this journey has taken me. First, my co-workers and supervisors were so welcoming when I arrived and each day I’ve felt more and more like a member of the Sunrise team. I’m really going to miss them! Second, my role in cultivating the Bounce and Jump programs have reminded me just how much I love working with kids and how passionate I am about wellness and
addressing childhood obesity. This passion is refreshing and has helped me put some direction to my future career path. My other projects involving the health fair and nutrition and diabetes education programs were also enjoyable, and further assure myself that public health and education are a good fit for me. And lastly, outside the clinic has been an experience of self-discovery, and also tons of fun! I have never lived so far from home for this long, but luckily the community of Vistas here in Greeley has acted as a second family. Amazingly compassionate, talented people are on this Vista project, and I feel so lucky to have met such great people. I am continuously amazed and comforted by the level of support amongst the Vistas, both in and out of work. Whether it’s volunteering their time at your program or event, or opening their house when you need a place to stay, the Vistas have definitely been a highlight of my experience and I can’t thank each of them enough for that. So as my term is coming to an end, I am soaking up the final moments of all that being a Vista means to me, but am also looking forward to my next steps (although they are still a bit hazy at the moment!). This bitter sweet feeling I have is reminiscent of graduating college last May so I feel like I have to include the wise old Dr. Seuss’s graduation quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” This has been an incredible year and I owe many thanks to all the people who shaped my experience so positively. I’ll be in colorful Colorado for at least another year though so I’m sure I will see you all soon!
Ellen (Aylin) I discovered VISTA through a chance encounter. I was volunteering at a traveling event called The Blind Café, which educates about blindness by simulating the condition for hundreds of people at a time, and a fellow volunteer told me about her rewarding year as a VISTA. It was an evening that would be symbolic of my entire year with VISTA. We all sat together learning and getting to know one another under new, challenging circumstances, and ultimately we shared an unforgettable experience. VISTAs often move to their location of service from out of state, without friends or family nearby, and without much money. What do we have? Mainly, we have our commitment to social justice and also a willingness to try new things. Community organizing is slow and challengingmore people tend to say “no” than “yes.” I certainly struggled and learned a lot this year. My advice for current VISTAs is to focus on the “yeses” at work, get involved wholeheartedly in the community, and embrace the new friendships and experiences that this year has to offer!
THE VISTA VERSE | Issue 8
Ginnie Wow, what a year this has been! I climbed rocks, survived the crazy cold winter (even if it was a 'mild' one), and met the most exceptional people (from all over the states) who have become like family. To Faith Community Service Fund family, thank you for welcoming me so warmly to Greeley, for your constant love and support, and for encouraging me to live by faith. Thank you for your mission to help individuals in need and to put hope back in people’s lives. To the VISTAs, I will take all of you with me wherever I go. Thank you for your friendship, your spunk, your heart to serve, for all of the laughs, adventures, and potlucks! Know that
The Vista Verse
For more information, contact Lisa Monsen | VISTA Leader United Way of Weld County Lisa@unitedway-weld.org 970-304-6179 814 9th Street | PO Box 1944 Greeley, CO 80632
you always have a place to stay in California. I’ll treat you to frozen yogurt! Blessings :)
fighting spandex suit underneath). We not only surprised our bosses with what we could achieve, we surprised the heck out of ourselves. And what most of us didn’t realize is how we would
Lauren “You say ‘goodbye’ and I say ‘hello, hello, hello.’” – The Beatles It seems like we just said hello to each other and yet, we’re already on our goodbyes. Weren’t we just talking about all the adventures we planned on taking in this vast alien place we landed in? We may have experienced the most extreme year of our lives; from living near the largest meat packing plant in the US, to winter white wonderlands created while we were sleeping, to the unfortunate wild fires sparked by drought, human mishap and lightning. Did I mention the sublime beauty of the Rocky Mountains in our backyard? But the most extreme of it all, living a new life for a year. In just one year we were expected to help an organization (most of us knew nothing about) thrive and we were expected to thrive professionally. And we did just that (queue the Vista ripping open their normal clothing to reveal their Super Man inspired AmeriCorps poverty-
thrive personally. I’m so proud to say that I was part of the Greeley AmeriCorps VISTAs. You’ve all made an impact on my life and all those you’ve come in contact with this year. I wish everyone the best of luck with whatever beautiful new path you choose to live. So let’s not say our “goodbyes” let’s say our “hellos” to another new, crazy, wonderful, magnificent chapter in our lives.
Nora & Lizzie
THE VISTA VERSE
Volume 2 Issue 8
Very Valuable VISTA: Nora Burmeister, High Plains Library District 1.) What is your favorite childhood memory? Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, even when I was a little kid. I would request these elaborate costumes, and since my mom is the craftiest person in the entire world, she would make them perfectly and I’d always go into my elementary school costume days feeling like I looked exactly like the character I was supposed to be. I never wanted to be the princesses or ballerinas – I was always a fan of the evil characters, particularly villains from Disney movies. I never really grew out of this either – about a year ago, I dressed up as Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’. 2.) Which mythical figure(s) would you like to see in REAL life? I would like to see a clurichaun, a mythical, Irish fairy. It’s similar to a leprechaun, and if you treat them well, they’ll protect your wine cellar. 3.) If you could be a background character on any TV show, which would you choose? Arrested Development, because it would be hilarious. Or Doctor Who when David Tennant was the Doctor, because then I would get to be close to him and maybe talk to him or even touch him. He’s a magical golden
unicorn. Can I change my mythical figure question to David Tennant, actually? 4.) If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? Probably a sloth, because they rarely have to move, and that’s kind of my thing. My favorite thing to do is absolutely nothing. 5.) What are 3 things from your bucket list? Break out of prison. Rob a bank. (Maybe those two should be switched). Touch David Tennant. 6.) If you could go anywhere where would you go & who would you take? I’d like to go to Siberia, so I could wear nothing but leather and furs (sorry vegan VISTAs) and experience cultural traditions. I’d take Liz, because she’s pretty great at not laughing at me. 7.) Who is your hero? I’ve worked with a lot of incredible people in my VISTA years, and it’s really hard to place one hero. Most of my heroes are my students – 60 year old southern black woman who was improperly educated due to racial issues coming back to school to get her GED, a Guatemalan man who worked his family out of poverty, learned English, and is studying for his citizenship, a young woman who kicked drug addiction and is getting her high school diploma to be a better mother to her two year old son. It’s really easy to be inspired by watching people with less opportunity than you fight for better lives for themselves and their families.
8.) Why did you become an AmeriCorps VISTA? I became a VISTA because I wanted to help people while earning money for school. I knew that I wanted to get a master’s degree, but after graduating from the University of Oregon, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or where. Working in libraries as a VISTA has helped me realize that I really want to continue in libraries and get my master’s degree in library science. Thanks to the Segal Education Award, a big portion of my library school cost will be taken care of. 9.) What do you miss most about home? I miss my family a lot – I have a 2 year old niece who’s the cutest damn thing ever, and I’m really excited to go play with her again. Other things I miss about Portland, OR: Rain. Food carts. Being able to walk to a concert any night of the week. Stripperoke. Cool places to shop. Powell’s Books. Brunches that last until 4pm. 10.) What do you love the most about being in Colorado? I haven’t been the biggest fan of Colorado, what with the giant wildfires and disasters that have happened during my year here, but I will miss a few things, like thunderstorms, good Mexican food, select co-workers, and the amazing VISTA friends I’ve made.