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March 14, 2012

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

My name is Courtney; I am a twenty-something female VISTA working at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. Fueled by wanderlust, I deserted my native Arizonan home some years ago to travel and work around the world—more recently I returned to the states and relocated to Sacramento. In only a few months I have fallen in love with my new home- the people, beautiful surroundings, and sense of community were an unexpected treat, and I am thrilled to have taken this incredible opportunity.

I learned about Americorps during my service in the Peace Corps (Albania 2008-10), with an understanding that the program is “like a domestic Peace Corps”. It is not! There is an entirely different set of challenges, goals, support network, and lifestyle involved here, which is fantastic because it allows me to learn a new set of skills and gain an even greater variety of beneficial experiences. I chose to apply for Americorps because I have an ingrained sense of community action and activism- I believe we can create a better world for ourselves and it is through the process of making these efforts that we are rewarded.

The project I am working on is with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, of which I am helping in the creation of the new Demonstration Garden, where families and individuals will learn how to harvest and prepare the vegetables they cultivate. Along with the physical creation of the garden, I am helping to develop gardening and cooking classes that will serve as a resource and teaching tool for the entire community. This will not only help local participants take action to improve their own lives and health, but will further spread healthy habits to their family and friends who witness and become inspired by these changes, like water droplets rippling throughout the community, and even nation. As a passionate advocate of the urban farming movement, I am pleased to be taking an active role in the cultivation of this program, all the while building upon skills that I will apply toward my continuing studies in the field of sustainable agriculture.

My life motto is the pedestrian “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Every action we take has consequences, anywhere from a small impact in someone’s day (like smiling at a stranger) or a global revolution (think Mohamed Bouazizi and the Arab Spring). As humans we are social creatures adapted to help each other survive, and, especially as Americans, we are fortunate to have the resources to seek personal growth for a fulfilling life—and if not, we can think of ways to work together and create them. To me, the verbiage of public and community service is sort of a misnomer of its value; instead of one-side altruism I see it rather as an act of sharing between several people, with advantages and growth for everyone involved.

Submitted by Courtney Jallo, AmeriCorps VISTA

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