Today was the first day at my actual position! I have my own little classroom at an elementary school where I tutor kids who need extra help with reading, using this cool computer program called Read Naturally. I never thought I'd have my own room and my own little group of kids. Each group comes in for about 30 minutes, so the day goes by pretty fast. It's tiny- even my little bedroom is bigger- but there's a wall of windows that look out to the mountains! And I have a blank wall to make posters and hang kids' drawings on :) In the afternoons, I will be working at a YMCA after school program, but that doesn't technically start til October, so the next month will be more a planning phase.
The past week, I've kept super busy. Friday night and Saturday, the team led crafts with kiddos at the Kid Zone at the Goombay Festival celebrating West African and Caribbean culture in Downtown while an urban youth stomp/dance team performed and a LEAF In Schools artist led a drum circle in the YMI Cultural center, a historic community center for the African American community of Asheville. We had some pretty nifty craft stations- Sijal and his group set up a "loom"- yarn tied between 8 chairs, coming together in the middle, where children wove different types of yarn, string, ribbon, and fabric to make a colorful "God's Eye"-esque craft, which we hung on display in the window of the YMI. On Friday, in partnership with City of Asheville's Easel Rider mobile art lab, myself, Johnsie, and Alyssa helped kiddos, parents, and adults create a collage mural of magazine clippings, which reminded me of the good ol' Panhandle House days in Denton when Ginny, Jaime, Josh, random friends, and I would go through National Geographic and make our own collages.
In my free time (that not spent volunteering), yoga, climbing, hanging out with my Americorps buddies, and playing concerts on my porch. Since finding a $5 pair of climbing shoes, I got a membership to the local climbing gym and gone 3-4 times a week, something I've wanted to do for over a year but kept putting off. I made a friend last week at the gym, who also works at a bar downtown that often has awesome bands play. He invited Carol and I to go out to Grandmother Mountain and boulder, so yesterday we packed into my little red car with 2 crash pads and drove out into the mountains. The rocks are AWESOME!!! Just high enough to push my acrophobia but keep my cool. We ran into some fellow Ashevillians and their dogs, and left when our hands were ripped up and covered in medical tape.
Also yesterday, friends Graham and Marion and I explored two of the many farmer's markets, which take our food stamps! We tasted fresh local honey and carried bags of the most delicious peaches, apples, and homemade sourdough bread to the car with a skip to our walk.
Asheville is amazing, the people are beautiful and happy, and there are so many exciting things to explore. I am so lucky to have this built-in group of friends, otherwise I'd probably feel overwhelmed by the big city. It's nice to start making friends outside the Americorps circle too, I certainly miss the small town community of Denton where I knew people everywhere I went. We have so much food at the house, it's humbling really, because it all came from a generous donation from the food bank to the Americorps team and from food stamps. We don't get paid until mid-September, and even then the pay will be meager. This is the life of professional volunteers. It's cool- we're all here to serve the community, and the community gives right back to us with equally open arms.