By Andrew Dwyer, Senior AmeriCorps member serving on the Westfield Capital Management team with Mildred Ave. K-8 School*
Many would claim that college is the time when people grow and mature the most. It is a time where students are forced to climb out of their comfort zones in order to adjust to the new challenges bestowed upon them. Although I would agree that college is a period when one significantly grows, I would say that I grew the most serving a year with City Year Boston. Through my year of service, I was truly tested to my limits as I made every effort to put forth my best self every day. Here are five memorable moments of service where hard work truly paid off.
City Year Talent Show
Shortly before winter break, my teammates and I decided to compose a talent show for our students. We spent hours practicing our acts and decorating the stage. It was one of those times when we collaborated powerfully as a team, even when it meant staying well past our normal service hours. Seeing the students’ excitement as we performed for them was an unforgettable sight. Ultimately, our dedication also served to bring the whole school together to celebrate the end of the first half of the school year.
Accelerating in English
For an entire unit, my partner teacher let me engage a group of six students on John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. This was initially a challenge for me since I had never taught a book from start to finish. However as we progressed through the book I became more comfortable as my students started grasping the material. When the students took the final test, three of my students ended up getting the highest grades in the class, and all of my students passed. I still remember all of their faces lighting up when they saw their grades.
Appreciation from a Student
There was a student in my math class whom I had been supporting every day. At the beginning of the year, he would always say how much he despised math, but as I started spending more time with him, he began to improve his performance. He later told me that it was because of me that he began to like math and get better grades. This was a time where I realized that I was making a difference in the day-to-day service I was providing.
In May, my team and I gave the students an opportunity to present their own talents outside of the classroom by hosting another school talent show. Seeing all of the hard work and joy that the students put into their performances further helped me refine the idea of why we served. We not only strived to help students get better grades, but we also gave them reasons to feel confident and proud of themselves outside of academics.
During the weekend of Boston Shines, an annual cleanup event where volunteers unite to clean our Boston communities, several teammates and I supported St. Peters, an afterschool program that many of our Cape Verdean students attended. My teammates and I served alongside these students, helping to clean Dorchester. This was a great time for us to connect with our students outside of the classroom while showing them the beauty of community service.
Of course, there are many more happy memories from my service year, shared regularly as “joys” within our City Year community. Yet I remember these key events as those that allowed me to best realize the importance of my corps year. Additionally, these experiences helped me grow as a person, and I’ll treasure their lessons for years to come.
*Note: Dwyer previously served his corps year on the PTC team with Dearborn STEM Academy.