City Year was founded on the belief that a year of national service could serve as a “civic rite of passage”—a uniquely transformational life experience that, while helping to transform communities in need, could bend the trajectory of an idealistic young person’s life towards a lifetime of active citizenship and civic leadership.
This founding vision is the inspiration behind our leadership development curriculum, The Idealist’s Journey. Recognizing that there is more to idealistic leadership than accumulating skills and knowledge, we provide a structured reflection experience that invites you to connect with your own purpose, values, and insights related to your service experience.
At City Year, we've found that a corps member's experience closely mirrors the "hero's journey" framework developed by Joseph Campbell, and our Idealists' Journey will guide you through these three stages which are common for most participants:
Departure: In this first stage, you depart from a familiar, comfortable home community to embark upon a challenging and meaningful adventure.
Road of Trials: In this most formative stage of the journey, you face tests and trials that transform you in powerful ways as you strive to change the world around you.
Return: Ultimately, you emerge with a wealth of new skills, insights, strength, and wisdom, which you eagerly draw upon in your efforts to continue to be of service to others.
Over the course of your Idealist’s Journey, you’ll have the chance to engage in two types of reflection:
Personal: What is your personal leadership mission statement? What are your own core values? What are your personal goals for the year? How do you handle conflict? What are your greatest strengths? Your answers to these questions have a profound influence on your leadership at City Year and beyond, and only you can answer them honestly and authentically. We make sure you have some time to give these important matters attention.
Practice: Every day at City Year is filled with challenges and struggles that are rich with personally meaningful leadership lessons, and we make sure that you learn how to unpack these important leadership lessons embedded in your everyday experiences. We powerfully develop your skills with “problem finding”: we will empower you to confront the complexity of your service experience, identify the most personally meaningful problems to focus on, and explore effective approaches to addressing that challenge. This skill will serve you well as you strive to achieve impact with students and develop as a leader during your City Year—and will be invaluable as you continue to confront complex challenges and choices in your life and leadership after City Year.