By Laura Ann Cowie, Corps Member, City Year Miami and Kaitlyn Gustafson, Corps Member, City Year Miami

"The Value of Sunday"

As a City Year corps member there are many values that we dedicate our year to and choose to live by. Specifically, in our City Year Miami service year, there is one value that always seems to outshine the rest: “students first, collaboration always”. This is the value that reverberates daily between our Miami teams. It steals the spotlight and with good reason. What value could exemplify our experiences and passion more? 

We are a group of dedicated young people who believe wholeheartedly in the awe-inspiring power of education. Everyday we wake up, and some mornings, getting out of bed seem like a light hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro: almost impossible. Then we think about how inspiring our students are, we put them first. We get on our red City Year jackets and we go to our schools. We do this to be there for our students who often teach us more than we teach them. This is Monday through Friday. 

Saturdays I collaborate with my friends. My Saturday collaborations in Miami help me to soak up our amazing city. Wynwood Art Walks, or free yoga in the park; I enjoy everything Miami has to offer us. I become a comedian, a swimmer, a dancer and a weekender during my time here. 

Then Sunday comes. Sunday is my day. It is every corps member’s day. It is the one day that I completely put myself first. 

One of the greatest things about being a corps members is being surrounded by wonderful fellow teammates on a consistent basis. One of my favorite things about Sunday is being surrounded by my own thoughts and reflections.

This day for me is left open to opportunity. I can spend time at the beach or with myself at the laundromat. But no matter what I choose to do, Sunday is fully mine. It helps me fortify my foundation. Without Sunday’s gift of total relaxation my weeks would not be the same. 

Sunday helps me as a corps member to find my best self. It helps me focus on me, so that on Monday, I have everything to give to my service. Giving myself a day builds my strength and provides me with tools, to come back to my center and become whole again. All parts of myself are put back together and I feel strong. 

Sundays are my days, the bridges between two worlds.  They help me to wake up on Monday feeling genuine and whole remembering what being a City Year corps member in Miami is all about: students first, collaboration always.

- Kaitlyn Gustafson

"Sundays in Miami"

Sunday comes, without exception, more quickly than expected.

It appears, bright eyed, just as I am closing mine. I’m tempted to ask for “five more minutes,” to roll over into the duvet of my short weekend. Sunday carries a backpack full of Monday, and is always asking to sleep on my futon again.

In Miami, Sunday is for the sun. It cuts through my blinds, reminding me that however tired my week has left me, there is always new beauty in the city that I serve in. There is a pool, beach and blue ocean only minutes from my inner city apartment. There are busy streets to be bicycled. There are museums to peruse, galleries to wander through, libraries to be plundered. Sunday, and my bike comes free from its perpetual route towards school. It is free to steer me to new sights. Or known comforts. 

It’s said after countless days of five am, your body forgets how to sleep in. Sunday is the exception. Sunday is for sleeping. For afternoon napping. For staying in. Or laying out. For Sunday, I don’t make plans. Laundry, dishes, mopping, lessons—those are for Saturday. On Sunday, I make reservations only for spontaneity. 

As a first year corps member with City Year Miami, I have come to value little over Sundays. They are the quiet weight that balances my week. My days are trying in their length but they are sweet in their fullness. I have begun to understand how many hours I can stand on my feet before I am truly tired. As my days fill, they are propelled forward by progress. In Miami, long days flash into completed weeks. A year City Year is a busy one, and it is punctuated only by quiet days of rest. 

Sunday is for my students, my roommates, my coworkers and friends; my family here in Miami. Because a day of freedom allows me incomparable peace in the coming week. A simple Sunday gives me strength to wake up smiling come five on Monday when my alarm starts to sing, and I begin another week of the most challenging, most rewarding endeavor of my life - serving the students and communities of Miami.

- Laura Ann Cowie

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