A post contributed by KNOM Volunteer alumnus, Laura Davis Collins:
One of the most frequently asked questions prospective volunteers have during the application process is,
What do volunteers do after KNOM?
This is a difficult question. Everyone builds upon their experience at KNOM differently.
Some never leave Nome. There is a good contingent of former KNOM volunteers, myself included, right in the Nome community contributing in different ways; whether working at the hospital, for the City of Nome, or for other non-profits in town – or right here at KNOM. For some, Nome has a magnetic pull. I tried to leave. I packed boxes. I dropped clothes off at the thrift store and gave picture frames away to friends. I mailed books back to the east coast. I said all my teary good-byes and ventured ceremoniously out of Alaska on a ferry from Whittier to Bellingham, WA. I was ready to close it up and move forward. But 9 months later, I found myself making plans to move back.
For others the pull is less intense. They’re able to stave it off, while exploring other parts of the state. Some former volunteers utilize their job experience in broadcasting at KNOM to score other jobs in radio and television. I wonder how often their time here informs what they do at their new jobs. The swath of broadcasting experience at KNOM is so wide. I’m sure it must resurface in new ways all the time.
Others hold KNOM somewhere in their being and bravely move forward with more conviction than I had. They stick it out, and take their lives in new directions, perhaps building on what they learned here.
The truth is, the early-mid twenties is a tumultuous time. Do you remember it? Or are you going through it right now?
You think, as a college graduate, that you must be on top of the world and have at least some things figured out. But looking back, I certainly didn’t. I was still gulping in experiences and figuring out who I wanted to be as an adult. Some of those had better outcomes than others. And I think that’s part of what being a volunteer at KNOM is about. On the surface, you wouldn’t think venturing to the corner of the world, to a small, rural Alaskan town, would grow and challenge you and help inform your inner fledgling adult of how to take on life’s challenges. But it does.
After two years of service, looking back on who I was as an arriving volunteer, I could already see the changes. Life in Nome is free from distractions. Free from traffic. Free from those big box stores selling you things you don’t need. Free from interstate billboards prosthelytizing the latest thing. It’s almost as if all experience – relationships, learning, giving, growth – is more intense without all those things watering it down.
So, “What do volunteers do after KNOM?”
I can’t speak for everyone. But I will always look back on my years as a volunteer and realize a great development in myself and my life. Without this experience, my life would be completely different. I’m not saying it would be awful or anything. But I move on in the world, to new experiences, to new relationships, to new jobs, possibly eventually new towns, holding onto a little corner of richness that KNOM and Nome have taught me to hold dear.
Laura Davis Collins served as a KNOM volunteer from 2007-2009. She is now the Outreach Coordinator at the station. She helps to recruit new volunteers every year to devote a year, or maybe two!, of their lives to service at KNOM.