By Maddie Scharff, AmeriCorps member serving on the State Street Foundation team with Higginson/Lewis K-8 School

On a bright Monday morning in August, 265 first-year AmeriCorps members eagerly made their commute to Excel High School for their first day of training. 

We were greeted by a rambunctious group of senior corps members and City Year staff with: “Hey! It’s you! You’re here! That’s great!” over and over.

This was one of the many morning greetings we heard that day and would later learn ourselves to greet students as they arrived to school. Morning greeting is just one way City Year gets “fired up” for the day. Our symbolic uniform, engaging in meaningful conversations, embracing diversity, practicing inclusivity, collaborating with our peers, and advocating for social justice also fire us up. 

We covered all these themes—amongst many others—during training. What sparked the most smiles and laughter, however, were silly, team building activities and icebreakers. One of the first icebreakers corps members were challenged to do was the human knot. Groups intertwined their arms, creating a giant, human, jigsaw puzzle, and would then have to solve their way out without disconnecting hands. Let’s just say we all got really close really quickly. 

One day we traveled to Thompson Island to spend the day outdoors, building community within our service teams. Many of us were dreading sticky, hot weather, mosquitos, and constantly constantly filling our water bottles. We completely lucked out though. The breeze off the water kept our shirts from becoming sweaty towels, tall pines shaded our backs, and the bugs decided to stay at home. At the end of the day, on the ferry back to South Boston, the air felt lighter. Previous concerns turned out to be non-issues, no one debated over the most efficient way to hoist ourselves over a 10 ft. wall, and everyone gained a deeper understanding of each other. 

For those of us who made it through BTA, we now proudly wear our red jackets because we earned it--and we earned it with the endless support from one another. 

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