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TPAC Americorps

PCSJS Portfolio's picture

Serving as an AmeriCorps service member with The Philadelphia AIDS Consortium’s (TPAC) ACTS Program was an important stepping stone to the HIV work I do today.  I had the opportunity to do a lot of direct service work for the first time, in case management, HIV prevention, and HIV testing, but also took part in a year-long training program.  My AmeriCorps training ran the gamut from looking at access to social services, to effective intervention strategies, to cultural competency.  While all of the topics we covered over the course of the year were important, and have helped me immensely in doing subsequent work, I was also left with many questions, some of which I feel embarrassed to admit.

My fellow service members came from incredibly diverse backgrounds – there were Bryn Mawr social work students using the program as their placement for their masters program,  and there were recently incarcerated injecting drug users with little traditional literacy.  But, we were all able to learn together, and all drew from different skills, strengths, and experiences as we went about doing public health work.  Being in my AmeriCorps classroom in the morning and then going to Bryn Mawr or Haverford in the afternoon, for class, was jarring.  I had to wonder: if my classmates at TPAC were so good at their jobs without having many of the skills valued at prestigious liberal arts colleges, could I also be successful without these skills?  What was the point in learning everything I did?  Do multiple choice questions about history really help me stop history from repeating itself?  I’ve slowly come to feel strongly that reading and writing should be thought of as one talent among many, and not necessarily the most important one for making a difference.  I certainly feel like I have grown a lot from my time at Bryn Mawr, but my Americorps experience has tempered the importance that I place on formal education.

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