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The ideal service metaphor is to act like water

PITW #158 It’s a Privilege for All of Us to Serve at City Year.

These words have new conviction after reflecting on my first year of service. City Year is an organization grounded in its values. I saw this displayed many times throughout my first Corps year. This intentional structure of the organization made the choice to attempt to return fairly easy. Even through the hardships that come with service and long hours, I found myself rejuvenated by the thought of idealism and social justice in moments that the chaos settled. I found not many spaces provide opportunity for growth and development while seeking to understand each member as an individual to serve them best. The support that this organization has been able to contribute over the years is unmatched. It makes me question, why would anyone want to leave?

PITW #101 The Ideal Service Metaphor is to Act like “Water”.

I have learned in the past year that a plan can spiral at any moment. And at any moment you may have to adapt and persevere. City Year has given me many tools in this area, one being the value of Level Five Leadership where Humility and Empathy play major roles. I have adapted from needing to know what will happen next to being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Just as water acts as a solvent on things that are stuck, City Year helped in building my own resilience. In this journey of self-awareness and improvement, I was only able to help my students greater and more authentically.

The students we work with have an incredible amount of emotional intelligence and held me accountable to my actions daily. When I was having an “off” day they would call it out. They knew I also would do the same for them and that I had high expectations. This made modeling resilience, humility and empathy consistently essential to service. I was able to dialogue with my students about what it means to have a growth mindset. We talked about how it’s okay not to have a good day everyday but not to let that stop you from persevering or being kind to others. I worked a great deal with them on being more reflective. Many of my students showed an increase in this area on the HSA and I saw many of them taking time to process what they were experiencing and feeling throughout the year.

In my new role as a Team Leader, there have been changes in logistics and I do miss being with students at times. However, I understand the importance of having a servant leader to guide Corps Members through the year and am ready to take on the challenge that comes with this. It is a delicate and complex position, holding the team accountable to the same high standards as I did my students while keeping them motivated and encouraged when times get tough. City Year has a way of bringing together many unique individuals all with a heart for service and a desire for social change. Before I came to City Year I thought I needed to go somewhere else that people wanted to make waves. Now I see that I am in the perfect space with wonderful humans, all-willing to do their best to become Big Citizens in and out of service. Humility, will, boldness, courage and perseverance are the qualities of Level Five Leadership. I hope to embody this value throughout my service year for my team, students and the organization that has taught so many invaluable lessons.

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