My name is Samantha, and I am serving as a WSC AmeriCorps member with the Hunger Intervention program in Seattle, Washington.
For a part of my service, my Americorps partner and I develop curriculum and deliver/teach nutrition courses to local schools and other parts of the community. Our very first sign-up was a local elementary school. I do not have much experience with children, and Literacy Source is one of the locations hosting a Cooking Matters class. Literacy Source provides lessons and practice for individuals who do not speak English as a first language, or those who wish to develop their English skills. I recently held a Cooking Matters workshop as a demo for our upcoming class. This short Cooking Matters demo was organized as a short “taster” of what one could expect from a class. This included a short nutrition lesson and a very short cooking activity, all fit into a one hour slot.
At the beginning of class during introductions, one older woman who was from Korea spoke to me very softly, telling me that she was feeling very depressed. She had no motivation to cook or create meals for her or her family. She wanted to take this class to fix that. Throughout the class, she was very engaged. She asked good questions about fats and oils, wanted to help chop all the vegetables for the bean and bell pepper salsa, and even volunteered to stay after to help me wash dishes and load my car. After I assured her that it was not required or expected, she insisted. When I was about to leave, she requested an extra copy of the recipe from today. She wanted to save her copies, because she “feels excited to make this again. I will make it for my family, and I want to do this more”.
My story is not dramatic and it is not life changing. But it does reflect the empowerment that comes from something as simple as a one hour cooking demo. By providing an opportunity to others to express themselves and try something new in a safe environment, we can help others create meaningful changes in their own lives. And that is ultimately what Americorps is all about to me. We cannot save the world, but we can help others to help themselves, and that is a very important component of creating positive and meaningful change.