AmeriCorps NCCC: The Domestic Peace Corps
A Traveling Adventure of Discomfort, Growth and the Creation of a More Diverse Family
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a traveling national service opportunity for Americans aged 18–24. In 2014 I signed up for NCCC and flew off to California for ten months of nonprofit work with a team of ten other people who were strangers in the beginning, but soon became family. My team worked, lived, cooked meals, traveled and explored together. We traveled through California, Oregon and Alaska and lived in tents, apartments, cooperatives, and barns. We worked for state parks, conservation agencies, learning to help farm on communes and built tundra gardens in the Arctic.
AmeriCorps NCCC is directed by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which is in danger of being defunded by the federal budget this coming 2017 fiscal year. This program instilled immense growth and sense of community for my team mates and I, and think it should continue. I urge you to support the program and, if you are aged 18–24, sign up to experience it yourself.
There are four NCCC campuses in the US, and when you are accepted into the program, you will be directed to one of these programs. I was sent to the Pacific Region campus based in Sacramento, California. Once I arrived, I was introduced to the ten people originating from across the US who would be my teammates for the year.
That year we spent birthdays, holidays, late nights, early mornings together. We laughed about cold showers, lack of showers, lack of internet or phone service. We gathered around fireplaces at night and drank tea and told stories of our lives. We balanced each other out, and raised each other up when a few of us were down. We were more than a team, we were a solid entity in ourselves. I am still in touch with all of the people that I traveled for those ten months with, and I don’t think that I will ever forget them.
During NCCC, you move every two months with you team to a new project location around the US, and help out with a local nonprofit. Housing situations vary from living in apartments to camping in tents beside a river. You learn the flexibility that is inherent in travel, as well as learning about the populations you interact with in each new community. NCCC taught me how to jump into a community and get to know people and opportunities fast, and I have carried that with me in each new situation I’ve been in since the program.
Not only is it great to get to travel, but for some people who participate in NCCC, this may be the only chance they get in their lives to travel. NCCC accepts participants from all different backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. Because of this diverse acceptance of applicants, NCCC teams are a place for learning and growing within themselves. While in the program, participants make friends with people they would otherwise never meet in everyday life.
Most everyone that I met in AmeriCorps NCCC was a dreamer, idealist and a change maker. And if they weren’t when they went into the program, they came out with that flavor ingrained into their being. This program was an opportunity for these people to connect with one another, and build national relationships.
Throughout the program, we learned much about the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, privilege, discrimination, violence, and injustice. We met regularly to discuss issues going on in the world, as well as to engage in extra community service events outside of our regular work schedule.
Try It Out
NCCC is a life changing opportunity, but if you’re questioning whether you should do it or not, this might not be for you. The program demands a certain amount of spontaneity, and throwing yourself into the winds of chance. I can’t promise you’ll have a good experience, but I know you’ll have an experience. And at the end of the day, that’s what really counts.
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