by Zachary Davidson, AmeriCorps member serving on the Advent International team with Condon K-6 School

Dear future City Years,

As I’m looking back on my service year, there are a lot of little things that myself and my teammates have picked up along the way that have made all the difference. I’d like to share some of them so that you can avoid some headache and heartache coming into a year that will be very challenging and very rewarding.

August 1st Move-Ins Are Your Friend! This is more for incoming AmeriCorps members (ACMs) who are looking for an apartment for the year in Boston. Boston is a city of students and the biggest moving day of the year here is September 1st; coupled with the fact that Basic Training Academy started on August 10th, finding an apartment with a lease for August 1st made sense to me. It relieved me of the pressure of an even more hectic move-in and having to find a place to stay for the weeks preceding my move in.

Find Some Comfortable Shoes. Seriously, I am rarely sitting in the classroom and being on my feet is that much easier when I have shoes with some solid support. Finding shoes that also meet uniform requirements can be challenging but, whatever it looks like for you, find some shoes that won’t make your feet ache.

Create Routines of Self-Care. This wasn’t something that first occurred to me and by mid-Winter, I was feeling it. My service year has simultaneously been the most challenging and rewarding year of my life. Whether it’s watching your favorite TV show before bed, finding time to read for pleasure, or painting the view from your window, creating intentional ways to decompress and unwind after a long day relieves stress on body and mind.

Reach Out to Those with Experience. Talk to anyone who has had experiences with City Year. Previous ACMs are a great place to start because they have the experiences that will closely match yours. But, I wish that I had sought out other perspectives: teachers who have partnered with City Year, staff members at City Year Headquarters, and volunteers from our service events can all provide different, valuable thoughts on our organization.

Find a Way to Document the Year. My partner teacher shared a quote that I thought was particularly relevant to my service year. “The days are long, but the years are short.” I see this in how I am writing this post in early Spring, yet BTA seems just a few weeks ago. So much happens in a day and I wanted to find a way to record some of it. This looks different for everybody, but, what worked best for me was a simple written journal. It doubles as a work notebook and contains a record of my thoughts throughout the year.

Adopt an Attitude of Flexibility. Out of any thoughts I could share, this one seems the most broadly applicable. City Year is an incredibly multifaceted organization and as AmeriCorps members, we wear a lot of hats. Being able to go with the flow and adapt to changes in plans or expectations is a valuable skill that takes practice.

Yours in service,


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