To be honest, I can’t wait to finish writing these 500 or so words. This blog post is one of the last things I have to do before I can make the five-hour drive to my hometown of Miami and officially start my winter break. I get to go home and see my parents and siblings, have my grandparents fuss over me, my aunts and uncles ply me with food. I can’t wait for the warm weather (believe it or not, it is so cold right now in Jacksonville!). I’m excited to sleep in and to give my uniform a rest. After a productive first half of the year, my team and I ready for a much needed break from data, emails, Common Core, reading strategies, planning sessions, team meetings, school events and tutoring.
But, if there’s one thing there’s no escaping this holiday season, it’s my City Year AmeriCorps elevator speech. My family and friends all have questions about City Year.
The conversation will usually follow this general outline:
Distant relative: So, Catherine, explain to me what you do again.
Me: I serve with an educational AmeriCorps program that targets students in lower performing schools. I’m a mentor who serves in the school alongside a teacher every day, helping students with their attendance, behavior and academics.
Distant relative: Sooooo, you’re training to become a teacher?
Me: No, I don’t really want to be a teacher. But I do want to work in education. Some people who go through the program want to be teachers, others do other things. I have a good friend who served with me last year who is now in her first year med school at the University of Chicago.
Distant relative: ...
Me: Essentially we’re a group of mentors who--
My grandmother (interjecting after eavesdropping): She’s a teacher. She teaches.
I know my family is proud of me, but how do I explain what it is I do? How do I explain the amount of energy and passion that myself and my fellow AmeriCorps members put in (not just across the U.S. but across two other continents) to reach as many students as possible?
How do I explain the love that I have for the students and that I will do anything in my power to help them succeed? How do I can explain the kinship I feel with someone across the country because, even though we’ve never met, we know what the struggle and the joy of dedicating a year of our lives to serve?
I can give facts and the data, I can give anecdotes about the students with whom I work I will try to explain in the best that I can. Hopefully, they will see my passion for City Year and that will be enough.