VISTA Spotlight: Amara Robinson

I am serving in Eden Prairie Community Education, within the Eden Prairie School District. My task is to work on Community Engagement. I have been working on implementing a volunteer program for Community Education. Once fully functional, this program will ensure that there are nurturing, trained, and committed volunteers in our classrooms supporting the curriculum and working with our students on literacy in a one-on-one or small group setting. By incorporating volunteers into the classrooms and projects, we are better helping our students and their families. In developing a streamlined process to recruit, train and manage these volunteers, Community Education will be able to enrich more classrooms with volunteers than ever before, which will increase the number of students and families they can help. 


As for accomplishments...

I am NOT a number person—I never have been. I liked graphs as much as the next person, but I always felt that research and math bored me.  However in this position, I have found out just how powerful it can be to know how to find your own research. Not only do I no longer hate doing research and exploring every possible census report or survey: I like it. I am also very proud to say that I have learned more about Eden Prairie than I ever believed possible. It has been such an incredible opportunity to have time to dig into the community struggles and strengths.


What’s your favorite tip for making the most out of being a VISTA?

Being a VISTA can be tough sometimes, but so can everything. Being a VISTA has provoked in me a resourcefulness I never thought possible. I am saving more money now than I ever have before. If anything, I will (eventually) be grateful for my teeny-weeny stipend when I am rolling around in all of my saved money.

In preparation for this position and the pretty serious fall in income, I found ways to reduce my cost. I now always have delicious food at home so that I do not go out to eat (as frequently). I am open with people about my desire to no longer frivolously spend money, which means they will also hold me accountable. I also have significantly less time during the week, which means I can’t spend 12 hours at Macy’s anymore. 


What’s your earliest reading memory?

Many of my friends and family call me a freak—mostly because I am such a book fiend. I have loved reading since my Dad taught me the alphabet. My earliest (and happiest) reading memory is from when I was 6 years old. We were on one of our weekly trips to Lowes and my Dad was walking through the store, grabbing whatever home improvement tools he needed. As he walked through the store, I followed closely behind him while reading my book, navigating the store only by watching his feet. I still haven’t mastered the art of being able to put down a book!


My favorite part about being a VISTA is the opportunity. Through my position I have become so comfortable with Excel and Outlook that I almost don’t understand communication/information in any other format. I have had the opportunity to learn from people, which has been most valuable. It was more wonderful than anyone could imagine coming into a place where they are expecting you to not know anything.

It was actually very nice to say, “Hi, I’m Amara and I actually know nothing about anything”, and for them to allow me to show my ignorance instead of pretending that I know everything. But then again, maybe that’s just the awesome people I work with.  


If I could be a certain age again, I would be 16. The urge to move back into my Dad’s house and resuming to mooch off of him is irresistible sometimes.  


My favorite Halloween costume was the year that I dressed up as a dinner table. It may sound weird, which it is, but it was also awesome.

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