When reflecting on my year of service, I can think of no better analogy than that of a lever. On one side of the lever is the world—or at least the world that our students provide us. On the other side is AmeriCorps Members. The lever itself is service, specifically serving our community through showing up every morning, coming to every school event, lending endless helping hands, and every, single moment of dedication. The combination of all of this, plus our fulcrum of support (AKA City Year, our schools, our communities, and our teammates), allow the two entities on either side of the lever to lift the other up. This equalizing of sorts introduces so many new opportunities for our students: success, recognition, and world change.

Similarly, throughout my year of service, I have been granted the ability to lift up my students and thus their world. My students are seeing their incredible talents and abilities. Their confidence is soaring. In addition, the classroom is becoming calmer. The school is becoming more positive. Change is affecting the entire community. Lifting up even one student can change an entire community. Our endless hours of dedication and commitment are not in vain. All of our tutoring sessions have been small sacrifices when considering the grand scheme of things.

This is what this year of service did for my students and my community. It allowed a fresh-out-of-college, apathetic young adult to influence a group of young students who in turn, took my influence and multiplied it by a thousand. Moreover, these students influenced me. They opened my eyes, made me care about more than myself, and gave me purpose. If anyone were to consider doing a year of service, I would have to say, why not? There are thousands of gains to be had when you jump on the lever, lift up your community, and watch them soar. 

Katie Harris served as an AmeriCorps Member at Merrydale Elementary School during the 2016-2017 year. She now serves with AmeriCorps Vista in Savannah, GA.

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