Monday, May 7, 2007

Fiddling performances, Americorps

I just noticed that the fiddlers have at least four performances at local fairs, fundraisers, and events before the one on June 9 (my performance goal), including two on one day (May 19). Well, I said I wanted to perform. I am going to aim for playing in the two on the 19th: a cancer walk and an Americorps Fair. Both worthy causes, and if my imperfect cello fiddling helps in some way, all the better.

I served in VISTA after college, and it was one of the great learning experiences of my life. I've been encouraging my kids to look into Americorps. The program seems so different, much more structured, from when I entered, in 1968, a turbulent year. ("Turbulent" was a word I used often in college papers. I also thought it was good luck to start each paper with "Although.")

When I was in VISTA (on an open Sioux reservation in South Dakota), the philosophy was that we, as college-educated middle class Americans would just naturally know how to share our skills with the people we were there to help. My degree was in international relations. My only relevant skills were sewing and flute playing. My roommate, a Ute from California, and I were a little lost. Finally we decided to help teach in the one-room, 8-grade schoolhouse. That was fine, until they said they didn't need us anymore--they had decided to hire a second teacher. But that is the philosophy of VISTA, or was then, to work yourself out of a job. Then winter hit. There were six inches of ice on the roads, covered by six inches of snow, and snow was piled six feet high on either side of the road, or at least that is how I remember it. It was hard to be of much help, and I left before my year was up. I returned to visit three years later and about six of the twelve volunteers who were there with me were still there, far more dedicated and/or able to cope than I was at the time.

When I checked last year, Americorps offered programs where volunteers could teach jazz in the inner city in New Jersey, or help with a high school chorus program in Seattle. My son plays jazz sax, and my daughter sings, especially classical music, so I thought these would be great programs for them. One of my son's friends dropped out of college and joined Americorps. He seems to be enjoying it immensely. I think he is learning home construction, in a Habitat for Humanity type setting. The Americorps people on the Cape seem to be mostly involved in coastal environmental protection, and I think there are a lot of older people involved. Well, I should find out in a couple of weeks.

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