As City Year AmeriCorps Members, our service year can be summed up into three main components: the people and community we serve, the fellow AmeriCorps Members who serve alongside us, and the everyday experiences in service that lead to an abundance of life lessons.
When beginning our service year, we expected to learn about public service, the education system, City Year, AmeriCorps, and how to work with and support the youth in our schools and communities. But what we did not necessarily expect was to learn a heap of life lessons that would aid us in our own personal journeys. As a team, we took some time to reflect on and discuss our takeaways from the first half of our service year; in doing so we realized that in our efforts to support our students and improve our communities, we were simultaneously improving ourselves. Day by day we are becoming better servant leaders, workers, friends, and ultimately, better versions of ourselves. The lessons we have learned thus far are summed up below with a few quotes. We look forward to all that 2017 will bring as we continue to develop into servant leaders and grow this list of lessons.
1) Embrace The Uniqueness of Your Purpose.
“My biggest lesson learned this year, is that each person has to discover his/her/their own unique purpose. Whether personally or professionally, no one else can tell you what you should do to feel fulfilled or successful - it has to be you! I appreciate the time and space City Year has given me to reflect on my own passions and talents to discover the right path for me. I will do my best to support my team members through their reflection and share as many opportunities for growth as I can!”
- Jen Hunter, Team Leader
2) Keep Loving, Keep Giving, Keep Working. No Excuses!
“There is absolutely no room for excuses. Keep loving, keep giving, and keep working. That’s the main lesson I have learned so far. There really are no good excuses that can get in the way of helping others. In order to provide the excellent service we have signed up to give, we cannot operate off of our day-to-day feelings or flux in motivation. Because, honestly speaking, you are not always going to feel like reporting to your school at 6:45am every morning, you are going to feel like giving up when you don't see immediate results with your students, and sometimes, you’ll just simply feel exhausted. But the thing is, those feelings are temporary. What lasts are the contributions we have made to our community through education and the impact we have made on our students. It is a privilege to do this work and I cannot let temporary feelings distract from my purpose of being here in the first place.”
- Tsciena White, 1st Year AmeriCorps Member
3) Like Service, Happiness is also a Choice and a Commitment.
“I have learned that no one else can make me enjoy this work. Although my team is GREAT, the energy and motivation I need to propel me each day ultimately comes from my own will to do this work; knowing that helps me take control over my day and reflect on how I want my interactions to go. This year of service is a choice and a commitment, and so is my happiness. I am committed to choosing happiness for the rest of the year so that I can be my best self for both me and the beautiful people I serve.”
- Jesse Olson, 1st Year AmeriCorps Member
4) Learn To Fail Forward...Everyone Has To.
“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. This year I have learned that I can do anything I put my mind to, and my success is determined by how willing I am to fail forward and work hard. Failing forward is simply taking lemons and making lemonade. I may not always get my desired outcome but I will never stop working toward my target goal. Additionally, being open to the feedback and support from the people around me will help me grow exponentially."
- Yasmeen Merriweather, 2nd Year AmeriCorps Member
5) Patience and Perseverance are the Foundation of Impactful Service.
“One of the most significant lessons I have learned is that it takes patience and perseverance to make a lasting change in your community. After completing my service year, I look forward to continuing this type of work in the field of education. My City Year experience has conditioned me for a life of working to improve our education system. Although it is not usually easy, I am thankful to have the opportunity to practice patience and perseverance every day.”
- Canella Ontiveros, 1st Year AmeriCorps Member