by Anny Lee, AmeriCorps member serving on the CSX team at The English High School
“What is your personal commitment?” A conversation between Hubie Jones, City Year Senior Adviser and Social Justice Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and Charlie Rose, Vice President and Dean of City Year, opened City Year Boston’s Mid-Year Summit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Here, they challenged the whole City Year Boston community to reflect on our individual commitments to social change. It was this question that we considered for the remainder of one powerful week as a united corps.
In the same day, Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (MassLEAP) led a spoken word poetry workshop, engaging AmeriCorps members in creative writing. MassLEAP created a comfortable space for those both familiar and new to the art, demonstrating how corps members could facilitate the same lesson with students. The organization is also a sponsor of Louder Than a Bomb, the world's largest youth poetry slam. After the workshop, youth poets from Louder Than a Bomb Massachusetts delivered extraordinary performances that inspired even more AmeriCorps members to use this method as a way to help students to advocate for themselves.
As the week continued, AmeriCorps members attended sessions that caused great reflection upon the first half of the service year. In presenting challenges that had come up in our service, we learned new strategies that will help us finish the year powerfully. But some of the sessions involved a good degree of self-facilitation. For example, AmeriCorps members noted where in service they personally felt obstacles, whether that meant a lack of communication, ineffective planning, poor organization, or something else, and then developed specific action plans to overcome these struggles.
Another highlight was the 18 Minute Networking event. AmeriCorps members joined alumni and City Year champions from a multitude of schools, companies, and organizations in Boston for small-group discussion sessions. Facilitators represented various fields such as social work, nonprofit, business, graduate school, youth development, and medicine. The clock flew by during each session, yet AmeriCorps members were able to gain intricate knowledge of the facilitators’ work and how they came to their positions—important points to understand when planning for our next steps beyond the service year.
Overall, this week of learning brought 265 City Year Boston AmeriCorps members together to recenter our purpose, reinvigorate ourselves, and recall the powerful community spirit that we experienced during the Basic Training Academy that began our journey. With the knowledge gained from this week, we are ready to return to service with fresh perspectives, new strategies, and a greater drive to enact social justice for all.