2016-01-11

Written by Mia Ruffin, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation Team at Winbourne Elementary School.

I am writing this piece directly to my fellow service warriors. This is to everyone that stands in the light of service and faces their brethren and 'sistren', especially as we approach the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday next weekend. As an AmeriCorps member, I am speaking to my fellow soldiers across the nation. As a member of City Year, I am speaking to every single person that maximizes the potential of the school day for hundreds of thousands of children. As a member of 1CYBR, I am speaking to the many who work to support my hometown's school system. I am speaking but this isn't a speech.

I want to ask all of you one question. How will you frame your moments of service?

This may be the beginning or the end of your contracted time. My team and I are currently at the middle of our service year and the signs of wear are showing, indeed. Guesstimates of how long it will take us to complete projects are quite accurate. Our familial bond waxes and wanes like all natural things do; it is nonetheless strong. Perceptions of our students' tastes and learning styles are second nature, as we grow more comfortable leading lessons and assisting them with a myriad of life challenges. Each of us come from different communities, family structures and educations.

The commonly used literary image of a human sponge could not be more befitting than right now. The many matrices of our lives build the filters over our experience. I am lucky to be on a team where each member strives to remember the positivity of their moments. Regardless of what we try to acknowledge, negativity and mistakes are absorbed as well. Stimulants wake up fears and victories just the same. We are what we do, change makers in the elementary school environment. Weaknesses of that system roll over us; the joys do as well. All the same, we each choose to frame our days our own way. We tell our families and the interested public about our service using both what we have been trained to say and what feel compelled to say. Our truth is innate.

Regional Vice President Stephen Spaloss spoke to the CYBR village at our Mid-Year Summit. He shared his journey through City Year and left an impression on all of us. We were left with the challenge to finish our year as Explorers instead of Vacationers or Prisoners of the experience. Vacationers coast through their days and do the bare minimum with every metric. Prisoners feel stuck in their service, enduring instead of enjoying their days. I choose to purposefully spend the next five months continually embracing City Year culture, carrying out each task with full fidelity and share with the public the magic of our service. I will frame my moments with endurance, intention and pride. My conversations will illustrate creativity and my memories will remind me of how hard I worked the year after I graduated from college.

How will you frame your moments of service? What will you share and what will you highlight? When you have begun another career track or grown in your responsibilities, how will you remember today? The time you have given, you cannot get back. With what truth will you frame your call to service?

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