By Jonny Yao, Communications Coordinator

Align. Build. Connect. These were the guiding principles for City Year’s 2014 Summer Academy. Sponsored by Comcast/NBCUniversal and held at Northeastern University, City Year staff and senior AmeriCorps members from 26 cities (including Johannesburg, South Africa) joined together for one week of intensive learning, networking, and community building. 
Between more than 100 sessions that helped to build specific skills for groups of staff and AmeriCorps members, a bevy of events brought together every participant in Summer Academy. Among them were the opening and closing ceremonies, two "unity rallies," and the Comcast/NBCUniversal Leadership Awards — where City Year Boston, along with several other sites, earned a Stephen G. Woodsum “Best of City Year” Award.

Another highlight of the Boston corps’ experience was an education forum, where three Boston students were able to voice their thoughts on what students need in order to learn in schools and how City Year AmeriCorps members can best support students’ goals, hopes, and dreams. As one student put it, “I usually get nervous talking in front of people, but not now, because these are City Year people.”

As Summer Academy concluded, participants left with a sense of growth and empowerment, both in themselves and in one, unified City Year. Rachael Alexander, Learning and Development Director for City Year Boston, framed “knowledge as ‘always becoming,’” as she reflected:

Summer Academy is a specifically designated place where our entire organization gets to completely immerse ourselves in that concept [of knowledge] — either sharing ideas and experiences, learning new content, making connections to people and ideas that will sustain us through the year, or reflecting on prior experiences. It gives us an annual opportunity to look back at what's happened before, look forward to the excitement or possibility of what's to come, and be in a space where we really pivot from one time to another.  I think that's what's so powerful about Summer Academy; it's really each individual operating in all of these ways internally, but [also] as a massive, collective group operating for a common mission.

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