VISTA Stories: Rachel Berkowitz

September 23, 2010

A very powerful moment for me had seemingly nothing to do directly with my VISTA assignment, but in fact was the first time in my VISTA experience that I felt I was really starting to get to know the community and the leaders with whom Growing Up Healthy (GUH) works. As I was finishing up a meeting with my supervisor, one of the community leaders called me on my phone. She told me that her friend, a woman (for the purposes of this story, Sara) who I had interviewed for the mental health research project  on which I had been working for GUH, was having some trouble understanding a work situation because of a language barrier. The community leader asked me if I could meet Sara at her house and help her to understand what was going on. I met with Sara and learned that she actually needed to connect with her boss face-to-face to explain a situation which had happened earlier in the week so that there was no detrimental misunderstanding, and she needed someone to interpret for her. We drove together to her place of business, and I was able to interpret for Sara. Once the misunderstanding had been sorted out,  Sara decided to mention one of Growing Up Healthy’s new programs, Spanglish (for English and Spanish learners), to her boss so that office members could attend and learn some Spanish. The three of us proceeded to have a nice conversation about the Spanglish program, and Sara and I left feeling very relieved that the situation had been resolved and that Sara’s relationship with her boss was continuing on a positive note.

After dropping Sara off back at her home, I reflected a bit on this whole experience. It felt really wonderful that one of the community leaders had thought of me as someone who could and would help as a part of the community. It was great to see a real-world example of how some of Growing Up Healthy’s programming is so useful. And it was powerful for me to actually have the tools necessary to assist in this situation. For the first time, I felt like I was beginning to understand the community with whom I am working, and I felt truly energized to continue pushing forward with the grassroots and systems-level projects that Growing Up Healthy does.

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