As I move towards retirement and see more of the past than future, it seems…
If I could give 5 pieces of advice to a future MVC volunteer they would be….
Be open to change. As an MVC volunteer, you will live in a community where everyone starts off as a complete stranger, while working at a site that may not be anything that you expected. Allow yourself to be open and take the challenges as they come. If you are not willing to change, you will not be able to have the best experience possible. Let yourself learn new things, take on jobs that you may not have ever wanted to do, talk to people you never imagined talking to, and accept that things will come up that you will need to adapt to.
Let yourself live in the moment. As a teacher, it is very hard to not take work home. However, when I say take “work” home, I mean the struggles that some of my students face on a daily basis. I always have to remind myself that there is only so much I can do. So instead of letting myself constantly worry about my students, I have to let myself enjoy my time away from work and to enjoy the amazing culture and beauty that surrounds myself. Let yourself experience more than just your work site.
It’s okay to make mistakes. Many of us who are in MVC are right out of college, while some people may have some experience in the working field already. Regardless of your past experiences, we are all new to our sites. It is okay to make a mistake! No one is perfect, and making a mistake is part of life. However, take the mistakes, learn from them, and next time you will know what to do.
You have support. Many of us come into a year of service nervous about living and working with new people. I know that I personally had the thought, I will be over 2,000 miles away from home, with complete strangers, and I am going to have no one. However, your community becomes your family away from home. Your work site becomes another family, and the people you serve make you feel welcomed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your community members, work sites, or MVC staff for help. Everyone wants you to succeed, so never think that you are alone.
Have fun! There are so many amazing opportunities that are placed in front of you during MVC. Take advantage of them and enjoy yourself! I know that we are all sent to serve those who need it, however, we are humans also and need time to have fun. Try your best to say yes to any opportunity given to you. MVC will only be as fun as you make it. Let yourself laugh with your clients, laugh with your community members, and enjoy the ride.
Mariah Iapicco, St. Michaels, Arizona