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VISTA Day in the Life: Ada Anderson

December 18, 2017

The blog series “Day in the Life” seeks to illustrate what it’s like to be a Serve Philadelphia VISTA. In the posts, current corps members explore what they’re learning from their position, how they’re contributing to their office, and what it means to do a year of service.


As a VISTA, I am giving a year of my life to better my community and those around me. But most of all I am bettering myself. As an African-American female, I never imagined that I would have the chance to be the Mayor’s personal photographer. When I found out I would take on this role, I felt all types of emotions at once. I felt excited, honored, happy, nervous, and anxious. Before I elaborate on these emotions, I want to discuss how it all began.


It started after I had begun serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I told the Corps about my Graphic and Interactive Design background, as well as my love for photography. I expressed interest in taking pictures for the Outreach Committee—for the social media page and website. I am a co-chair of the committee. The Outreach Committee volunteers (or gathers volunteers) to reach out to other organizations, schools, and business officials to promote what VISTAs do.


Due to my background and expressed interest in photography, Tori Bond, one of the Corps’ VISTA Leaders, walked up to me and told me that the photographer was unable to make it to the AmeriCorps Launch.  At first I was wondering what we were going to do to take pictures for the launch. I had a camera, and so did Claire Healy, our Program Coordinator. I thought Tori would ask her. Instead, she asked me. Not only would I be the Mayor’s personal photographer, I would be the photographer for the whole AmeriCorps launch. Once I knew this, I felt those five emotions: excited, honored, happy, nervous and anxious.


I started off feeling excited and honored that SERVE Philadelphia took my photography into consideration. One of my jobs was to capture a full group photo of everyone attending. Once the event started at the Art Museum, I was able to direct others on where everyone should stand on the steps during the photo. I was fortunate to have four of my fellow VISTA Corps members helping me tape off the steps. Everyone who had helped was very cooperative and supportive!


I was eager to be behind a barricade on the side of the mayor. I viewed, through my own lens, the reactions of the crowd as we all listened to him, and many others, speak that day. Every speaker was very passionate and motivating. I was excited to capture all their passion through photographs.


On the other hand, I was nervous and anxious about what I could and could not do when it came to taking pictures. As a photographer, I had so many ideas of which angles to take, how to take them, and where they should be taken. I did not want to get too close to the Mayor, and I did not want to be too far. I was also anxious about how my fellow corps members would feel about my photographs. The feeling of nervousness disappeared when I showed a couple of people the photographs and they loved them! I felt confident in my ability to capture the spirit and livelihood around me, and honored to be part of a momentous event.


Ada Anderson is the 2017-2018 Read by Fourth Partner Support Coordinator for the Free Library of Philadelphia.




Are you interested in being a part of next year's SERVE Philadelphia VISTA Corps? Fill out an interest form today!

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