My first week (and a half) at the Gandhi Institute

I am an AmeriCorps VISTA. My job is to build capacity for an organization, to create and maintain sustainable infrastructures for an organization in order for them to achieve their goals and combat poverty.

I did not apply to the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence directly but after attending one of their events, it was the reason why I decided to apply to AmeriCorps VISTA. Needless to say, when I found out that my sponsoring organization matched me with the Gandhi Institute, I was ecstatic.

And now my first week and a half has passed. I can summarize it in one word: whirlwind. Although some people may think “whirlwind” has negative connotations, I subscribe to the belief that it is a word filled with dynamic energy that has the ability to excite and renew.

On my first day of work, I had the privilege to attend a trip to the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan with our Summer Youth Facilitation Institute (SYFI) students. Not everyone gets to have as quite a memorable first day. But then each day was filled with new, exciting experiences. I participated in a three-day nonviolence intensive, cooked and hosted donor breakfasts, began new relationships with partnering nonprofits, danced with neighborhood guests at a dance party, and began to full understand the uniqueness of this space. (I would like to add that I did do my other work too.)

I understand that I’m entering the Gandhi Institute during a time of transition–our SYFI program and intensive have finished, we are gaining new employees while other beloved ones are finishing their time with us. Transitions cause a frenzy of activity and it can appear overwhelming to be thrown into the middle of it. However, I never felt overwhelmed, just inspired. Instead feeling anxious about the chaos of a new job and juggling various events, I find myself being excited to wake up and tackle each challenge.

When people visit the Gandhi house, they are overjoyed and gracious for this space in the middle of Rochester. I’ve heard time and time how grateful they are not just for the institute but for the people who populate it. I am a witness to their joy whenever they step onto the property or interact with its staff. There are smiles abound.

Whether the institute is serving the Rochester City School District youth with conflict management, their local neighborhood with a dance party, or people from around the globe with a nonviolent intensive workshop, they are making a positive difference in their local and global community. I feel more than grateful to have the opportunity as an AmeriCorps VISTA to devote my next year  here.

Circles and Beloved Community

When I’m getting to know someone, I like to ask them the question, “What were you like in middle school?” I like this question because it helps me learn about …