At the beginning of each VISTA member’s service, AmeriCorps VISTA and the Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation) host a Pre-Service Orientation (PSO). VISTA members can attend in person or take a modified version online, depending on what their particular VISTA site selects for them. According to VISTA Campus, the PSO is designed to be “a comprehensive, multi-modal program of training and support to ensure the member service experience is positive, productive, and cost-effective.” The in-person PSO is a four-day orientation and training event that is led by Corporation staff and a cadre of expert facilitators in order to prepare VISTA members for their service, even though their sites will all be very different.
This month I attended an in-person PSO in Florida, and it was an amazing chance to network with some amazing individuals. At PSO, I met other VISTA members who are serving all over the nation as well as some great Corporation staff and facilitators. All of the VISTA members were separated into large groups of approximately 20. I really enjoyed meeting the other VISTA members in my group and thought the woman who facilitated our activities was really great and knowledgable of the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
During the four-day orientation, I had the opportunity to connect with lots of other great VISTA members outside of the green group, including some who are serving in Kentucky. I really liked getting to meet some of the Kentucky VISTAs before beginning my VISTA service because it was comforting to know how many awesome people were doing the same thing near me. Getting to meet some of the VISTAs in the Plantory Network was really great too because those are the ones I’d be getting to interact with the most over the next year.
Overall, the best part of the Pre-Service orientation is the networking opportunities. It is really important to have these connections as well as make friends and colleagues because it will help make your year of service as VISTA better, especially if things get a little tough. I am very excited to get to know the other VISTAs in the Plantory Network even more because the ones I met at PSO are all very nice and funny; I know there are others that haven’t met yet because they didn’t go to the in-person PSO, but I’m sure they’re all pretty awesome too.