Blog by Adele Norton, AmeriCorps member on the Acosta Team Serving at Jean Ribault High School.
Although I have only been an AmeriCorps member for a few months, this experience has already shaped my identity in ways I could not have foreseen. I used to identify as an optimist – now, I am an idealist. Rather than merely commenting or reflecting on the social inequity I see around me, I seek out ways to do something about it by working with others and channeling my passions and skills into projects that need them the most.
Apathy is America’s most prominent adversary, and I will do everything in my power to combat its presence in our society. I recognize that some people look at me, and wonder how I could do anything to help the students whom I work with everyday. Some presume that I am treating this year as some sort of do-gooder, one-year obligation to justify the rest of my materialistic existence, and I do not doubt that these accusations are grounded in previous experiences or facts. I accepted my offer from City Year knowing that I would receive these baffled responses and remarks because I believe in myself more than I believe in the naysayers. I believe in the power of young people – both those that I work with and for – as well as the power of empathy. Just because you have not experienced someone else’s life does not mean that you cannot relate to, help, and learn from him or her.
To be human is to have something in common with every other human on earth, and there is no reason why this truth alone should not foster a sense of connectedness across superimposed identities. This coming year, I strive to grow into the best version of myself so that I can continue to serve this country’s education system as an active idealist in the face of apathy.