By Nani Swaminathan

In 2013, when I stood to take my AmeriCorps Oath of Service for the very first time, I couldn’t help but feel like I was about to embark on a Lord of the Rings style adventure. I felt a little bit like every member of the Fellowship of the Ring mixed together. I pledged my sword, bow and axe to AmeriCorps. I felt like people were relying on me and fighting for my success at the same time.

This year, half way through my second term of service, just as the oath I took declares, my commitment has yet to waver. I am fighting the orcs of exhaustion, resisting The Lonely Mountain of laziness, guarding myself against the Sauron of surrender, and climbing the rocky terrain to the Mordor of success. (That last part got away from me a little). But I am not without fault, I occasionally have to find my center, harness my chi, and fight the urge to transform into Gollum. But that’s usually reserved for the days that I have to pay rent (my bank account is my precious).


Nani with Kid Power students on MLK Day of Service

The work that AmeriCorps Members do is driven by perseverance, commitment to safety and health, peaceful resolution, community action, and the glory of being able to say that they, much like Gandalf the Grey to the Balrog, did not allow the shadows of darkness to pass.

I decided 2 years after college that the community that forged me, was the community that I wanted to start making change within. My first year of service was spent wearing multiple hats as an Education Specialist for the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. That place was my Shire. The growth that I made there, both personally and professionally, reminded me that change begins at home, and spreads outwards.

This year, I am serving in Washington D.C. as an Academic Consultant for Kid Power, Inc. The fact still remains that the work that I do and the change that I strive to be a part of, has not faltered since I took my oath in 2013. Kid Power has brought me in with open arms, provided me with the environment I need to succeed, and pushes me to be the best version of myself. There are challenges along the way, but the continued senior staff support has made this experience one that I would not trade for anything.


Kid Power's 5 AmeriCorps Members

One does not simply walk into the Mordor of success. It is riddled with the fire, ash, and dust of life’s unruly challenges. The Nazgûl you face are those who would see you fail, but when you remember your oath, you will make it to the end and back home again.

I have already accomplished so much this year. I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting with baited breath, to see how the rest of the journey unfolds. It is as Gandalf said “AmeriCorps members are really amazing creatures. You can learn all there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet, after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.”

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