Navigating the VISTA Lifecycle

Reflect on and plan for the ups and downs of your service year. Click on "Introduction" to begin the course.

Introduction: The ups and downs of your service year

picture - VISTAs shaking hands

You’re a VISTA. The journey has begun. While every VISTA member’s path is different, most go through some predictable phases during their year of service.

For some, this will be the best year of their lives; for others, the hardest. Either way, everyone will face ups and downs, challenges and opportunities.

In the following activity you will look at the year ahead. You will identify where you are in the VISTA Life Cycle and prepare for its different phases. It’s time to jump in!

A Year of Activities

During your year of service, you will engage in three primary and overlapping activities:

The phases of the Life Cycle correspond with these activities. Click on any of the phases to learn more about that phase.

  • Learning
  • Doing
  • Teaching

Learning: Setting Out

It’s natural to feel ups and downs during the service year. For some, the beginning may be hard. For others, the end is a challenge. Expect to experience a range of emotions during your time as a VISTA. Part of coping is being aware of how and when you might encounter challenges and opportunities.

What are some challenges, opportunities, and needs you might have in the first month of your service year—the Setting Out phase? There are some examples below; add your own and then click Continue. You will have the opportunity to review all your answers at the end of this exercise.

Click Next to learn more about the Setting Out phase.

Activity

More About “Setting Out”

Activity

Learning: Learning the Ropes

What are some of the challenges, opportunities, and needs you might have in the first five months of your service year—the Learning the Ropes phase? Enter your answers below and then click Continue. You will have the opportunity to review all your answers at the end of this exercise.

Click Next to learn more about the Learning the Ropes phase.

Activity

More About “Learning the Ropes”

ActivityAudio

Doing: Cautiously Contributing

What are some of the challenges, opportunities, and needs you might have in months 2–12 of your service year—the Cautiously Contributing phase? Enter your answers below and then click Continue. You will have the opportunity to review all your answers at the end of this exercise.

Click Next to learn more about the Cautiously Contributing phase.

Activity

More About "Cautiously Contributing"

ActivityAudio

Doing: Performing at Your Best

What are some of the challenges, opportunities, and needs you might have in months 3–12 of your service year—the Performing at Your Best phase? Enter your answers below and then click Continue. You will have the opportunity to review all of your answers at the end of this exercise.

Click Next to learn more about the Performing at Your Best phase.

Activity

More About "Performing Your Best"

ActivityAudio

Teaching: Transferring Capacity

What are some of the challenges, opportunities, and needs you might have in months 4–12 of your service year—the Transferring Capacity phase? Enter your answers below and then click Continue. You will have the opportunity to review all of your answers at the end of this exercise.

Click Next to learn more about the Transferring Capacity phase.

Activity

More About "Transferring Capacity"

Activity

Making a Plan

Whether you are in your first month or your last, planning can help to focus your time and energies. Take a moment to reflect on what you have learned in this activity about where you are in your service year and how you feel. picture - VISTA working on his plan

Activity

Conclusion

picture - PSO welcomeCongratulations! You have finished this tutorial.

No matter where you are or how you feel about the VISTA journey, it’s important to keep in mind the larger goal of the service year.

As President Johnson said in 1964, “Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort, and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”

The VISTA service year inevitably has its ups and downs. Being aware of its typical phases and what you need to balance yourself throughout the year will make the process less overwhelming and more fun and productive. Remember: In struggle, there is life.