By D’Havian Scott
This week I interviewed Yes Network Vista, Rahmo Abdullahi from Saint Cloud, Minnesota. She is in her third year at Saint Cloud State University, studying Social Work. Rahmo is hoping to pursue a career as a social worker, where she will be able to assist people with meeting their basic needs and help them gain access to the resources. She applied to the program because her advisor at SCSU informed her about the Vista position with the AmeriCorps program.
Rahmo says that a skill she finds most helpful in being a Vista is her ability to speak Somali. Rahmo uses her Somali to communicate with parents who do not speak English, breaking the communication barrier. “Most of the neighborhoods we go to are majority Somali.” Rahmo recounted. “Speaking the language helps to have an understanding with the parents who don’t know English. Some questions I get are what’s in the food, or what kind of meat is in the food? Her ability helps her to communicate well with those she is serving and overcome a cultural barrier by understanding the Somali culture.
Rahmo expressed that something she learned in her time with the Yes Network as a Vista that she found valuable was that “something as simple as giving out meals to people who want and need them is really important in communities.” Speaking on how this impacted community members, she talked about how families in the community really appreciated this initiative because it was meeting their needs. “I know a mother that used to travel a mile away to grab food for her kids every day because she couldn’t afford to pay rent and for food for her kids simultaneously.”
Amid the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative is still taking place. Though protocols and structures have been shifted, this has not impeded the Yes Network’s mission of dedication to creating vibrant, loving, prosperous engagement with youth and families in the neighborhoods in which they live. Rahmo mentioned how the pandemic has impacted her work environment. “Usually, as a Vista, we play with kids and make connections with them, but due to COVID-19, we can’t interact with the kids the way we normally would.” Despite this, Rahmo expressed that they adapt so that they can still interact with the community members while being safe. “As Vistas, we try to have short conversations with the kids so we can slowly build a relationship while staying 6 ft apart.” She went on to say, “Being a vista in this pandemic gives my life more meaning because there’s a lot of people who have lost jobs due to COVID and might not be able to afford food for their families. “
Overall, Rahmo’s experience has been nothing short of rewarding.
She hopes to gain more experience and to create deeper connections with the families. Something that Rahmo expressed that was important was getting the word out about being a part of the Yes Network because she finds the position very enriching. “I think being a vista is really rewarding, and it should be something that’s widely known, and it’s also a nice way to make connections with students from other schools.