by Maria Cassidy, AmeriCorps member serving on the BMC Software Team with Irving Middle School

The more I thought about interviewing a student, the more I realized how great of an opportunity it would be. Empathy might be a City Year AmeriCorps member’s most powerful tool. The deepest and most impactful relationships with students are built when there is a deep understanding of where a student is coming from. Thusly, I decided to center all my questions around getting to know where my student comes from, and I encouraged her to do the same as  impact goes both ways.

Questions for My Student:

MC: What’s your friend group like?
E*: Fun, and whenever you have a problem, you can vent to them. There’s a lot of venting!

MC: What do you like to do after school?
E*: Go to the mall. Sometimes, I like to go home and sleep.

MCDo you have any siblings?  
E*Six! I live at home with some of my siblings, my mom, and my stepdad. Some of my siblings have already moved out and are working in the medical field. My older sister is a nurse that takes care of old people.  

MC: If you could travel anywhere for a week, where would you go?
E*: Florida.

MC: Why?
E*: Disney World!

MC: What kinds of problems do you like to solve?
E*: Not math problems! I like to solve friends’ problems. I like helping them think things through.

MC: What kinds of books do you like to read?
E*: Dramas and love stories.

MC: What is your best personality trait?
E*: I'm goofy!

My Student’s Questions for Me:

E*: What are your expectations after City Year?  
MC: Right now, another year with City Year or a master’s degree in social justice.  

E*: After City Year, do you hope to have the same City Year friends/stick with them?
MCYes, I want to still keep in touch with the friends I make on the team. Definitely a simple answer!

E*: In the long run (i.e. after a few months), what do you hope will happen?
MCI really want to see students start to own their power and start liking to learn. I hope students can see even more clearly what they want and how to excel in the systems they’re part of.

The biggest thing I realized is that Elaine* is much more complex than I expected. Nothing she asked me or answered did I anticipate. I have just scratched the surface of figuring out who Elaine* is, what she likes, where she comes from, and how I can best serve her.  She has brought me so much joy in seeing her laugh, seeing her personality, and seeing her grow in class. It’s a privilege to keep building a relationship as her tutor, mentor, and role model.


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