VISTA Training in 1969-1970

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I am looking for high level information as to the length and content of VISTA training in 1969-70 or around that time period.  Any input would be helpful. 

 

I went to training in Baltimore in Sept., 1967.  It was supposed to last from 4-6 weeks.  However, as the end of the federal fiscal year (9/30) neared, funding for training ran out. Since there was still sufficient funding in assignment account, we were sent to our assigned sponsors after only two weeks at the training center.

Since this training session was specifically for urban mid-Atlantic assignments
(Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, etc.), a lot of our training involved visits
& briefings at local agencies (Balto. City Health Dept., Community Action Agency,
Balto. Housing Authority, etc.).  We learned about rat control, lead poisoning,
housing, & the basics of living in a large urban setting.

And every evening at the training center, we had these god-awful encounter group
sessions which I thought were a major waste of time.  They were purportedly designed to weed out those who would have trouble adjusting to urban life.
(No, I wasn't weeded out.) 

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Wow, you both have great memories!  I trained in Chicago in the Summer of 1969 and then went on to serve communities in rural Minnesota for one year.  While I have distinct and great memories of my time of service in Minnesota, I don't remember much about our training and would like to fill in that gap.  If anyone reading this post trained in Chicago in the late 60s or early 70s and can shed light on the training content it would be much appreciated.  

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Your training was done by the Jane Addams training Center. You were trained in Detroit or Chicago for 4 weeks and 2 on site
This was probably the way it was

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I started  VISTA training in Austin, Texas at St. Edwards University in June 1969.  Mostly we stayed with individuals or families in the Black and Hispanic neighborhoods of Austin.  Some trainees stayed at St. Edwards.  We ate all our meals at the university's cafeteria. Buses would pick us up in the morning for classes at St. Eds and drop us off at night.

After a few weeks of training we had our "drop off".  We were given an envelope of money and the name of a town in Texas we were supposed to go to for the weekend, find a place to stay, learn as much as we could about the town by talking to people and observing and walking around.  After the weekend we were to take a bus back to Austin and report what we found.  So off we went on the Trailways bus to Seguin.  Three other girls and me.  We were all 21 or 22.  First we went to the police station.  Not where hippie looking out of state VISTA trainees should maybe go in small town Texas in 1969.  The year of Easy Rider, I believe.  But what did we know then?  The police had no crimes to solve that day so talked to us.  We asked them if we could spend the night in the jail.  They laughed and said no.  We stayed instead at what was once a grand hotel in the heart of the very small downtown.  It was across from a statue of The BIggest Pecan in Texas!  The once grand hotel was far from grand by 1969.  Other trainees went to other towns and we all then returned to Austin after the drop off weekend and reported our findings.

And then there was the first moon landing! At that point I was staying at a 2nd person's house in the Black community.  No A/C nor fan.  The TV was a very snowy black and white, of course, and I was trying to stay cool by holding a can of ice cold coke to my forehead. It was summer in Austin and HOT! The elderly Black lady who owned the house thought the whole moon landing was a hoax.  When my coke got hot I would go down to the corner laundramat and buy another one. VISTA trainees didn't have a joint moon landing party, and I don't really remember us talking much about it after the fact. I couldn't really see it because the television picture was so snowy, but I listened with a can of cold coke on my forehead. Those were the days.

When our six weeks of training ended we got our permanent VISTA assignments and off we went to make war on poverty.  Amazingly I was assigned permanently to Austin, and that did not please me.  I had just spent six weeks in Austin. I wanted to go somewhere else.  I was told I was so lucky because Austin was (and still is) the most liberal town in Texas.  But I wanted a new experience.  Most of the people I had made friends with went to Houston.  

Training was quite organized and we learned about community developement and organization.  They had a few parties for us and once we got to go for some r&r in a nearby artsy town named Wimberly.  It was a long time ago.  Soon to be 50 years actually and some of us from the Houston and Austin VISTA projects of 1969-1970 are now planning for a reunion to be held in Austin during a coolish month in 2019.  I never left Austin.  Here I am still.  No longer 22 but instead soon to be 72! We are searching for long lost VISTAs from those projects in Houston and Austin.  So far about 12 say they are coming.  Looking for supervisors as well though they would be approaching 80 years old or so. Contact me if you are one of these ex-VISTAs.

1969 and 1970 were radical times.  We were a rather radical bunch. For many of us that VISTA year changed our lives.

 

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