Why We Should Be Investing In AmeriCorps

Why We Should Be Investing In AmeriCorps

President Trump is looking to appropriate AmeriCorps' funds for military expansion.
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Graduation Day I remember the most diverse crowd of young people I had ever seen. Hands in the air and confidence in their voices saying, “I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done”.

I always felt like I had joined a mindless cult or some sort of kid’s summer camp when we were told to throw up our hands, as if we were all about to start simultaneously princess waving, and read this mantra off a computer screen.

It was not until my final day as an AmeriCorps Member that I understood the significance of the AmeriCorps Pledge. We started out as 300 misfits, unsure what we had all signed up for and walked off a stage ten months later as a unit with pride, purpose and an understanding of our place in this world.

There are some things in life that you cannot put a price tag on. The feeling of a job well done, pride in oneself, the sense of responsibility and the indescribable feeling that fills your body knowing that you helped another person. And the opportunities for young people to experience those feelings? Priceless.

I am sure many already know, as bad news travels fast these days, that President Trump’s latest in his seemingly never ending changes is a list of programs to cut in order to lessen domestic spending. Of the valuable programs on the list was the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the Federal Agency in charge of AmeriCorps.

I cannot help but see the irony. The irony in taking money from peaceful initiatives fighting the good fight here on American soil and appropriating it for military expansion. I would rather spend money equipping young people with gardening tools than with guns.

Service is service. It is noble and selfless no matter what equipment you carry or whether your life is on the line or not. As a country, if we truly want to be "great again" then we have to understand that one form of service is not more crucial than another.

It is irresponsible to take money from AmeriCorps programs to expand the military. You are essentially saying to other countries and the citizens of this one that taking care of our people and conserving our land’s resources is secondary to the need to defend ourselves and strengthen our borders.

I have wondered what Trump meant by, “Make America great again”. Like any country we have a history of taking what is not ours and oppressing groups of people. What comes to mind when I hear the word “great” is the Greatest Generation. The generation before my parents, the generation that lived, and didn’t live, through World War II. A generation of Rosie the Riveters and soldiers.

Women were in the States rolling up their sleeves and doing what so many thought was impossible. They were building and flying planes, manufacturing bombs, sewing uniforms and whatever they needed to in order help in the war effort. The WWII generation was great because everyone was involved in the cause, the cause of making this country great.

While the Greatest Generation were involved in a war effort, bringing victory to the United States, I believe that if everyone of this generation is to be involved again, we can be a generation greater. Today the war effort is different, it is overseas and it is here at home. We are in combat, but we also have wars on climate change, poverty and illiteracy. And who do we want fighting those battles? Young people. And how can they do that? Programs like AmeriCorps.

These young people, who are a part of the largest demographic this country has, are willing and motivated to dedicate not only their time, but their lives to the betterment of this country. They are registering survivors of natural disasters, building houses, planting trees and working hard at the jobs that no one else wants to do. These are able and willing young people and they may not be out there toting guns, but they’re right here at home making a difference, peacefully.

So, my question has been and will continue to be: aren’t young people worth the investment? Especially young people willing to serve their country right here, in an equally selfless way?

Invest in strengthening national and community service. Invest in the future of this country. Invest in the United States. Let’s set the bar higher and surpass the Greatest Generation.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.bostoncares.org/vistaopenings

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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I Spoke With A Group Of DACA Recipients And Their Stories Moved Me To Tears

An experience that forever changed my perspective on "illegal" immigrants.

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I thought I was just filming about a club meeting for a project, but when I entered the art-filled room located in a corner of the student common area, I knew this experience would be much more than a grade for a class.

I was welcomed in by a handful of people wearing various Arizona State hoodies and T-shirts that were all around my age. They were college students, like myself, but something felt different when talking to them. They were comforting, shy at first, and more driven than the peers that I usually meet.

As I began to look around the room, I noticed a good amount of art, murals, religious pieces, and a poster that read, "WE STAND WITH DREAMERS." The club was meant for students at ASU that are either undocumented or DACA recipients.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

As a U.S. citizen college student, you typically tend to think about your GPA, money, and dating. As a DACA recipient college student, there are many more issues crowding your brain. When I sat down at a club meeting for students my age dealing with entirely different problems as me, my eyes were opened to bigger issues.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program allows for individuals that crossed the border as children to be protected from deportation and to go to school or work. Commonly known as DREAMers, these individuals are some of the most hard-working, goal-oriented and focused people I have met, and that's solely because they have to be.

In order to apply to be a DACA recipient, it is required that the applicant is attending school with a high school diploma, or a military veteran, as well as have a clean criminal record. While being a DACA recipient does not mean that you can become a permanent citizen of the United States, it allows for opportunities that may not be offered in their home country.

It's no secret that the United States has dealt with immigration in a number of ways. From forming new policies to building a wall on our nation's border, we see efforts to keep immigrants from entering the U.S. every day. But what about the people who are affected?

As the club members and I began a painting activity regarding where we came from and how we got to where we are today, I began to feel the urge to cry.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

One girl described the small Mexican town that she grew up in and the family that still resides there. She went on to talk about how important education is to her family and so much so that it was the cause of her family's move to the United States when she was still a child. Her voice wavered when she talked about the changing immigration policies that prevent her from seeing her family in Mexico.

Another member of the club, a boy with goals of becoming a journalist, talked of his depression and obstacles regarding growing up as an undocumented student. Once he was told by his father that he was illegal, he began to set himself apart from his peers and became someone he did not think he would ever be.

All of my worries seemed small in comparison to theirs, and I felt a pang of regret for realizing I take my own citizenship for granted every single day.

Terminating the policy would lead to the displacement of about 800,000 people. We tend to forget about the human aspect of all of this change, but it's the most important part.

For more information about this club, visit https://www.facebook.com/USEEASU/

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