The past six months I have spent living in Muskegon have been the best of my life. As the first month of 2016 comes to a close, I can only hope the rest of this year is half as exciting as 2015 was for me. I am still riding the waive of excitement/nervousness that I brought with me when I moved into my apartment on August 1st, and the combination of those two feelings have constantly kept me on my toes. The start of the second semester of the school year, along with the signing of my letter of intent to return to the Corps next year, have both made me realize how much time has actually passed since I arrived here.
In addition to serving in two different schools, I am also the assistant coach of the Reeths-Puffer varsity hockey team, which is another school in Muskegon County. So not only do I get to do what I love by talking about college with high school students all day, but when that’s over I have the privilege of sharing my love for the game of hockey with another group of young adults. Next week my team plays our cross-town rival, and some of the students from the schools I serve in are coming to watch me coach! Their interest in anything about me outside of my knowledge of post-secondary education speaks to the relationship I have been able to create with my students.
Sometimes I laugh to myself when I realize how much more invested I am in this community than I ever was in the community I lived in before going to college. Whether it is students hunting me down during school to continue a prior conversation, seeing hopeful smiles during college tours and presentations, or simply having the pleasure of being the adult a student chooses to hang out with while they work on homework after school, serving as an Americorps member has exceeded all of my expectations. While I knew I would have fun doing this work, I did not expect it to come this easily. On a large scale, I was (and still am) so focused on living up to the Americorps standard of service and hard work, that I thought fun would eventually be a by-product of the victories gained along the way. However, I’ve learned that on a smaller, day-to-day scale, it is important that I find ways to make college affordability fun for a group of students who tend to shiver when hearing the word “debt.” Through assistance from the Reach Higher Grant, I have been able to use direct money and free college apparel as incentives to fill out college applications and submit the FAFSA.
I remember back as early as my third week of service in the schools that I knew I would be coming back for my second year. I was learning very quickly that there were things I wanted to do differently and that I wanted to add another layer to the second time around. While I am only a quarter of the way through my allotted time in the Corps, it feels like I was doing my on-sight orientations just a few weeks ago. While it never seems to fail that time moves faster when I am having fun, I’ve come to understand just how quickly 2 years can pass. At the current rate in which things are moving, this could be the fastest two years of my life.
Now if only I could find a way to make time stand still.