Hey there! I’m a UMW graduate (2016) and I’m taking this class for FUN and also as a prereq to become a licensed English teacher in Vermont. Here’s why I chose this picture:
I’m wearing a uniform for AmeriCorps NCCC, a 10-month long program during which I’ve travelled around the southwestern U.S. to work on community service projects in partnership with nonprofit organizations. This uniform has endured far too much: I have worn it undergoing the incredible heat of a Tyvek suit on a Texas Hurricane Harvey relief project, experiencing nearly unbearable cold in a Missouri basement replacing floor joists (see pic), digging trails in the Ozarks, and currently farming and teaching nutrition education cooking classes to kids in Arkansas. It’s a little embarrassing how shabby I look at this point, but my uniform represents more than its grimy exterior: every stain, tear, paint splatter and lost button represents individual experiences during the past year that empowered me, built my confidence, and taught me invaluable skills.
I’m communicating with a teammate about our strategy to insert, raise, and shim the joist we just cut with our favorite circ saw (it had a cute little flashlight on it so it was easier to see where the saw blade was actually going in the darkness of the basement. 🙂 I’m sure it was as unsafe as it sounds). My stance represents confidence regarding something that I only recently learned. I am a small woman and I can lift a 16′ 2×8 on my own and use 5 types of electric saws to help replace a floor; in this picture, I don’t shy away from showing it.
To be perfectly frank, one of the reasons I joined NCCC was because I was furious at this country for a variety of reasons, and I acknowledged that it was wrong and unproductive to hold such region-specific resentments (regarding political and ideological affiliations, specifically). So I decided to live among those who I thought I resented, serving some of their struggling communities. This has helped me better understand countless people with whom I disagree and whose opinions I now feel empowered to try to impact rather than to demonize.
So this is my “frontispiece.” As I strive toward becoming a humble activist, I learn that it requires the combination of compassion for others and the awareness, willingness and courage to defend and work toward the ideals I find vital to this world. I’m the first to acknowledge that I haven’t achieved this goal yet, but this image represents another step toward doing so.
I’m adding an extra picture of me so my new friends here know what I look like when I’m not freezing my butt off on construction sites. 🙂 Here I am hugging a yarn-bombed tree.