|Vicky (2nd row, 2nd from left) with her team, Spruce One and FEMA Deputy Administrator, Richard Serino at their Induction Ceremony into FEMA Corps.|
As a FEMA Corps Member of the first inaugural class, I have been deployed from the mid-west, the southern region to my homeland on the east coast. Hurricane Sandy, to all those who call the east coast home, was possibly the worst Hurricane to hit in recent years. I was on the scene for that disaster response with FEMA; trudging through debris ridden streets, going door to door as a Community Relations Specialist, speaking to disaster survivors about how to register (or registering them myself!) for disaster assistance with FEMA or the SBA (Small Business Association). We worked beyond the traditional eight hour day, sometimes up to fifteen hours. It was no picnic in the park, but as we members call it, it is “AmeriLife”; you expect the unexpected, and adapt to every situation the best you can. In the end, our response effort with FEMA was worth it for the residents of New Jersey, they had nothing and although we lived a rugged, Spartan-like life, had comforts they were without.
Vicky (right) and a FEMA reservist canvassing an area of Barrier Island, N.J.
AmeriCorps NCCC and AmeriCorps NCCC-FEMA Corps is only a 10 month program; I began my adventure in August of 2012. It is now April, and my journey is coming to a close. Currently, I am residing with my team (Spruce One! Our Vinton campus team names are all named after trees) in the wonderful city of Chicago, IL. The majority of our deployment has been in response and recovery projects out in New Jersey, and now we have a new opportunity to help the FEMA Region V office with the recent floods and other important work that may include mitigation or preparedness. In AmeriCorps, you are given personal days and days called “Life After AmeriCorps” for which you can utilize for job interviews, college essays, graduate school and the like.
Vicky and her team working an outdoor Disaster Recovery Center a few days after Hurricane Sandy. It was freezing outside and they wore 5 layers under their uniforms to keep warm for the 12 hour day!
So, what is Life After AmeriCorps for me going to be? Thankfully, I have a few eggs in a few baskets thanks to two recent acceptances I received. The first is with CIEE Teach in China program which my partner and I are stoked for this coming August. The second is volunteering with the 'All Hands' disaster relief organization in the Philippines this coming July! In the meantime, I am working tirelessly in all directions; juggling my main role as a Corps Member, taking an online course for my TEFL certification in preparation for China and fundraising like a mad-woman to alleviate my airfare cost to Philippines. I hope that people realize that by expanding their horizons, and taking a blind leap of faith in themselves into the unknown, whether it be studying, teaching, volunteering, or medical missions, they will find in moments of reflections on how enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding their experience is.
To learn more about opportunities to study, volunteer or work abroad (as an undergraduate student or after graduation), contact Susan Carey in the Study Abroad Office: email@example.com