By Kelsie Rinard, first-year AmeriCorps member
Throughout the past nine months of service with City Year Columbus, there have been multiple times when corps members have been asked to create a “Why I Serve” statement, and each time I began to construct these statements, I found myself writing something different than the time before. In August, my statement included vague phrases such as “to give back to the community” and “to help make a positive impact on youth.” While both of those statements are still true, my service through City Year at South High School has shown me how much my service, along with the service of my team and the whole corps, goes much deeper than that.
This year of service has been incredibly challenging—constant pressure to meet data metrics and test score goals all while trying to connect with and mentor students who have so many factors affecting their school experience that are out of their control. There are many days when I need a reminder of why the work I do with City Year is important when I feel as though I am not making a difference or having any impact at all. It is on those days that I need to remember the impact of:
- Saying “good morning” to a student at the beginning of every school day
- Walking with a student to class who thinks skipping is the “cooler” option
- Reading aloud with a student who struggles reading independently
- Lending a pencil to a student who has no school supplies
- Listening when a student just needs to talk
These are the types of underrated actions that can easily be overshadowed by the determination to reach quantitative goals, but these are also the actions that can make the most positive impact with students. I strive to take a step back from my day-to-day work to focus on the small joys of each day and to remind myself that change doesn’t happen overnight (or maybe even during a 10-month service year).
With City Year, it’s hard for me to truly to express the complexity of why I chose to serve or why I will continue to serve in the education-field after my service year, but it ultimately comes down to two things for me:
- I serve because I believe that everyone deserves the right to a quality education. In a world with a million uncertainties, education is the one thing that no one can take away from you.
- If not me, then who?