In honor of City Year AmeriCorps Member Appreciation Month, nearly 1,000 alumni from across the country, and world, wrote letters of encouragement, inspiration and support to be shared with this year’s currently serving AmeriCorps members. The extra support and encouragement showed our AmeriCorps members how many people care about them and energizes them to finish the year strong!
Here's what Terry Peng, a City Year New Orleans alumnus had to say:
My City Year AmeriCorps member,
I hope this message finds you well and that your City Year experience has offered you inspiration and fulfillment despite the challenges you have undoubtedly encountered.
It's probably safe to say we live in turbulent times and that, for young people especially, the future may feel more uncertain than ever. In context with your year of service, I think it's also easy to question what impact you're having on your students and surrounding communities. Many career teachers and school administrators spend their lives striving to effect meaningful change through education, but these individuals would probably be the first to admit the limitations of their daily work and acknowledge the stubborn obstacles that persist at a national level. Nevertheless, it is without question that you have the opportunity each day to make a true difference in the lives of your students, even in the face of systemic issues and uncertainty.
In fact, I'm sure you already have.
You have the chance to grow into a more thoughtful, dedicated and compassionate person during your City Year experience. Use these values to help build a better world in your own way.
I encourage you to take some time to quietly reflect each day-- not just on the stressful moments, but on the seemingly insignificant ones as well. The Daily Examen (St. Ignatius of Loyola) is an exercise some use to meditate on the day's events and deepen their relationship with God, but I think it is beautifully effective for use in a non-religious setting too. Here’s one example of how you could use this exercise:
- Take 15 seconds to think only about where you sat today.
- Then, 15 seconds to recall the first words you spoke in the morning.
- Then, 15 seconds to remember when you first started to feel tired throughout the course of the day.
- Take another 20 seconds to contemplate what made you forget – even if just for a moment –about how little sleep you've gotten lately, and so on.
You're doing a good thing. It may not have every effect or achieve every goal you hoped for when you started this journey, but I promise you that all the love you put into your work contributes positivity to those around you.
If six degrees of separation are all that stand between us and the furthest corners of the world, then a single act of love (no matter how obscure or infinitesimally small) has the power to reverberate and change the world.
Yours in service,
Terry Peng is a City Year New Orleans ’15 alumnus. Following his year of service, Terry enrolled in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.