By Dana Jaehnert, Entrepreneurs of Color Program Development CoordinatorLegalCORPS

This story is one not primarily of my service, but of my education. 

I say this because these past 7 months of my VISTA service year have not been as much about what I can bring to a community, but about how my community is shaping me. 

I was educated my whole life by textbooks that told the stories of white people conquering continents, starting new technological innovations, winning wars, and finding resources. As I’ve grown up, I’ve slowly begun to realize that this was not a proper education.

Some of my teachers in high school did amazing work teaching me about the successes, struggles, and truth of non-white communities in the United States. They taught truths about the destruction of Hiroshima, the colonization of Native Lands, the conqueror Cortez who pillaged Latin America, the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Few ventured to talk about the racial disparities that are in our own backyards. I did read a book about a man who added pigment to his skin; he took on the life of a black man living in the south of the U.S., when he had grown up as a white man in the north. The personal struggles that he went through in the book were eye opening for me.