As I reflect on this past year as a VISTA, the only thing I think about is how fast the year has gone by. The troubling thing about VISTA is that it is only a year commitment, which gives you the feeling of being incomplete, or failing to complete your mission. Although I do have many tasks that I want the next VISTA to complete, I feel as though my full potential was just beginning in my position. Due to personal reasons, I feel like I only had seven full months of hard and focused work which brings me to my next point. I could not have asked for better leaders than Anya and Kristen. Seriously, they are some of the most supportive and genuine people I know. There have been many days where I just wanted to give up the $800 a month lifestyle and move on, but because of their support and trust in me I couldn’t let them down. I know that may sound corny, but it’s the truth. You also may be thinking, is this just him flattering or brown nosing his superiors. Well, that may have been a good idea in the beginning, but my service term ends this week, so there would be no point in it this late in the game. I can honestly say that if I ever needed any support in the workplace, or even in my personal life they would drop whatever they were doing to support me in any way they could. Now, that’s not to say they are soft in anyway. I am here to tell you, and Anya in particular, if you haven’t done what you’re supposed to do, or you make a mistake Anya will be sure to set you straight. However, this doesn’t come from a place of egotism, but a genuine desire to help us improve. In my eyes she is the true definitions of a leader. For one she has been in our position before, she gets it, which may be why she works so hard for us (at least from what I hear and notice). I don’t’ think anybody could honestly question her integrity which gives her credibility and allows us to place our trust in her. She listens without being condescending and is patient to understand her people. That is to say, her communication with us has always been often and open. Most importantly, she lets us VISTA’s know we are valued and the work that we are doing IS IMPORTANT. Anyway, I can’t say enough about her and yes I will be bringing some of her leadership qualities into my professional life. Likewise, the same can be said for Kristen. To me Kristen is somebody who knows what she stands for. She allows us to understand the job we are committed to which lays a foundation of not only hers, but our expectations. I really look forward to her development as a leader in the non-profit world. So, I guess this is my last ‘thank you guys for all you do.’ And I mean that. Now, to my cohorts, Congratulations! For someone to make it through a whole year, living on $800 a month, in a totally different city, helping a community you never met says a lot about your character. I think each of you are going to be very successful one day and I look forward to creeping on all of you in the years to come. (from what I hear it’s OK to say creeping when you’re referencing Facebook. Just to be clear.) Personally, this has been one of the toughest years of my life. However, professionally it has been one of the most fulfilling. I have learned a ton, met so many great people, and have helped make a difference. I will look back at this in ten years and think to myself, that really was a special year…. How and why did I go through with it? To that question, I’ll think about my supervisors at the Bonner Center, my cohorts going through some of the same struggles, and most importantly the inspiring people I served. Now, this wouldn’t be a true John Gough blog without some photos, so I end this bog with some photos of my life as a VISTA…..