In 2015, fresh out of college, I found myself flying from Madison, WI to Philadelphia, PA for Pre-Service Orientation. I would be serving as a VISTA for the next year right across the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden, NJ. I didn't know too much about the area, and was excited to become more familiar with the city in which I would be serving. I didn't know too much about National Service, either. A professor had recommended that I look into the VISTA program, and it had seemed like a good fit.
My year of service was challenging and rewarding in equal measure. By the end I felt I was finally getting to know Camden and the organization where I worked. I was really starting to feel comfortable in my position, and like I was contributing something to the organization. My VAD was focused on grant writing, and I helped write a grant application to keep a mentorship program running. I was sorry to leave VISTA behind when my year of service was over. So sorry, in fact, that I've now returned as a VISTA Leader at another host site.
From knowing next to nothing about National Service to becoming a VISTA Leader, serving changed my life in ways I never expected.