Elizabeth originates from Chicago, IL, and after living in Colorado, moved to Nebraska with her husband.
She has retired from a fulfilling career doing everything from court reporting to working for the Girl Scouts. Now, she is serving her first term as an AmeriCorps member with the YWCA of Adams County at the Hastings Literacy Center!
ServeNebraska: In one or two words, what is AmeriCorps to you?
Elizabeth Musgrave: Satisfaction.
SN: Do you teach ESL or literacy courses at Hastings Literacy?
EM: I help with both. There are two teachers and when they need an aid, I serve with whomever [needs me]. But I am paired with the reading and literacy teacher. But sometimes the ESL teacher needs me and I can go there. So, I go where I am needed.
SN: How did you hear about AmeriCorps?
EM: I had been looking for an adventure and a friend of mine mentioned it. She’s a teacher, she asked me if I had ever heard of it and she pointed the way.
SN: What ultimately made you decide to join AmeriCorps?
EM: I have always admired people, older people, young adults who decide that they want something more in their life, and I love the idea of being a conduit to their reaching that, reaching their dreams. I just love that idea. I never thought that I wanted to be a teacher, but I worked for Girl Scouts a lifetime ago and I went to training in New York, a trainer of trainers training, and I had loved that and had a good rapport with the others. I thought it’s time for me to find something to put that back into use.
SN: What have you learned as an AmeriCorps member?
EM: I have learned more computer skills. It has helped me cement the idea that we are all one. We’re all humans and it’s our job to help each other however we can.
SN: In your opinion, who benefits most from AmeriCorps programs?
EM: Ok, the member. I mentioned satisfaction, when I see others learning, it just makes me so happy that I can be a part of that. When I see their joy, I love these people. I admire them. They have such initiative and desire to learn, and to be able to do this and to be just a small part of it, the satisfaction I feel is just overwhelming. I feel so happy after a class that I can hardly contain myself.
SN: What is your average day like as an AmeriCorps member serving with YWCA of Adams County?
EM: I serve 300 hours per year. My typical class day is that I first meet with the teacher. Nowadays we are doing everything online, so we meet online and go over the lesson plan. Then we get our students together and talk with them to go over the lesson. We make them laugh, they make us laugh. Then we send in attendance. Other than that we are allowed 20 hours of training [during the year] so I need to learn the CASAs planning part so that when the students are taking the tests, I know what the tests are like and how they have to do it, in case they need help.
SN: What is your favorite part of serving as an AmeriCorps member?
EM: The connection with the students. Sometimes we go over vocabulary and you see a word will make a student go, “huh?” And we help them understand what the word means, we don’t tell them, but we give examples and when they catch on, the look in their eyes like, “Oh! Yes!” That enthusiasm for learning a new word and how it can be used. That connection.
SN: Do you have a favorite memory of your service?
EM: I was helping with an ESL class and we had 20 minutes left at the end and we decided to play the hangman game. We were having so much fun, all of us were laughing so hard at the words we came up with. One student put a word up and said she had been looking at it all night. It turned out to be restrooms. She was sitting across from the restrooms sign all night. We were all laughing so hard that the teacher from the other class came in to see what we were laughing at!
SN: What has been the most challenging part of your service?
EM: I think the hardest thing is trying to make myself understood. With vocabularies, especially with beginners, trying really hard not to substitute one word with a word that is equally as hard. That’s why I try to give examples, but even they can have words that are confusing. So that’s probably the most difficult thing, making sure I don’t confuse them.
SN: How has AmeriCorps service affected your plans for the future?
EM: My plans for the future are to serve as many people as I can.
SN: Has AmeriCorps changed you in any way? If so, how?
EM: It’s made me more open to technology. It has made more open to learning about other cultures. So many bad things happen because we just don’t understand each other’s cultures, each other’s backgrounds.
SN: What would you say to someone who is considering AmeriCorps service?
EM: Try it, you’ll like it!
We had a brand new AmeriCorps member start on Tuesday and she said, “You know, I just loved that!” and I said, “If you loved this, you’re going to end up loving it even more.” This group is just wonderful. The teachers care about the students and the students care about the teachers too.