Hello, my name is Patrick Studdert-Kennedy, and I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps State Member at Higher Ground in Tucson, Arizona. This year at Higher Ground marks my third consecutive year serving with AmeriCorps, developing and empowering youth through national and community service. It is through AmeriCorps that I have become passionate about working with youth, especially creating relationships and facilitating programs that foster opportunities for them to gain skills and evolve into productive members of society.
One aspect of AmeriCorps that I really love and that has kept me coming back over the past few years is the opportunity to immerse myself amongst different people, cities, food, weather, and traditions. That first move from Vermont to Arkansas was a pretty big cultural and geographic change, but it quickly turned out to be one of the most overwhelmingly positive experiences I could have ever given myself. I still think about the kids I taught and mentored at Cloverdale Middle School every day. The truth is, even though I was there to help and teach them, they ended up being the teachers and I the student. They taught me how to be outgoing and have confidence in myself. They taught me how to have patience and figure out how to solve problems. They taught me how to respect, and eventually love a place and culture that I never would have known anything about if I were still living 1,500 miles away at home.
From there, I've served in Colorado, Missouri and now Arizona, each experience unique in its goals abut consistent in its impact--for the communities I am serving but also for myself. It was in Colorado that I began my AmeriCorps NCCC journey, a program that engages AmeriCorps members in team-based service projects; a program that lasts all day, every day for 10 months, allowing its members the opportunity to travel around the United States and participate in different projects for a few months at a time. From Colorado, I went to Missouri where I served with an urban farm in Kansas City that uses sustainable living and home repair to transform the lives of community members. In NCCC, I was able to continue to experience new cultures, different people and diverse communities.
My experience so far serving at Higher Ground has been just as challenging, exciting, and rewarding as my past work. I have gotten the opportunity to work in two different local high schools on a daily basis, to serve as a high school enterprise coordinator and as a behavioral health technician, recording student behavior and coaching them to learn new behaviors and explore socially acceptable norms. Every day at Higher Ground, I learn something about myself, something about the community and something new about people. I look forward to seeing where this project will lead me next, and what kind of relationships and memories I will carry with me.
By Patrick Studdert-Kennedy