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City Year DC alumni share their stories

Serving in DC

Washington, DC is a fun and exciting place to  live and work.  As our nation’s capital, there are tons of budget-friendly activities and countless career and educational advancement opportunities. If you are passionate about public policy and politics, or just like the idea of exploring interesting neighborhoods and being thrown together with young people from all around the world, a year in DC could be the perfect fit for you.

For nearly 20  years, City Year AmeriCorps members have had the opportunity to serve in this important and distinctive city. And we think that service with City Year—supporting students in achieving their goals while also developing valuable skills—is the most exciting part of living in DC.

Service is not without its challenges, but it’s a worthwhile and unique experience that will push you to grow both personally and professionally. You’ll have the chance to work with fellow AmeriCorps members, teachers  and administrators to ensure that the students you work with every day feel academically supported and personally validated.

Here are some insights from young adults like you who have answered the call to service and who know what it takes to serve in Washington, DC classrooms.

Work with teachers to create a positive classroom environment

“As an AmeriCorps member, the classroom you share with your partner teacher is a small but dynamic world in and of itself, where aspects of the real world play out into existence. Every person who plays a part, past or present, carries that world with them,” says Elize Manoukia, who served at Stanton Elementary School during the 2016-2017 school year, serving as a tutor and mentor to fourth graders.

“Some days, the weight of this world may feel heavy, but there is a sense of calm and joy that comes with recognizing it exactly as it is,” she said. “What I have observed is that the classroom, like the world outside of it, is not a fixed, unchanging place. With our students, we can make it different, and we can make it ours. While I may not have a classroom of my own, I keep my experience this year in mind to create the world I wish to see.”

Learn more about the City Year Washington D.C. experience.

City Year Washington DC working with teachers

Find new reasons to be thankful through service

“I am thankful for so many things in my life right now. Trying to adjust my life to accommodate serving with City Year has been quite the transition, but one that I am happily making with the help of my loved ones,” says Malcolm Merritt, a City Year Washington, DC alumnus.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for the students, who even on the worst of days, find some way to put a smile on my face and encourage me to keep on pushing. I appreciate my teammates more than they know, and I feel lucky to be placed on a team with them. Their presence in my life, and the lives of the students we serve every day, has had a huge impact on each of our trajectories.”

Create safe spaces for your students

“I didn’t know that having lunch with my students once a week would be such a powerful thing. Lunch clubs became this magic space we shared—as long as they were respectful and engaged, they would receive my full attention,” says Katherine Tilmes, who served with Achievement Preparatory Academy.

In addition to helping students to grow in their academic work, City Year AmeriCorps members care just as much about helping students to grow in their social and emotional skills. Corps members spend time forging positive and caring relationships with students as near-peer mentors—mature enough to offer guidance, yet young enough to relate to students’ perspectives. Making sure students feel supported by caring adults in school is a big part of City Year’s service in schools.

“Lunch clubs became a place to de-stress.  A simple “How are y’all doing today?” allows each student to talk freely. We have discussions about goal setting and the power to turn even the worst day around. We talk about sportsmanship, peer pressure, and the painful race relations in our country.  We talk about fear, leadership, and the power of words.  Lunch clubs are a place where my kids know they can be themselves. They are a place where they know an adult will not only listen, but care about what they have to say.”

Ready to serve with City Year? Connect with us today:

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