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By Arielle Thompson AmeriCorps member, Manual Arts High School

When I began on my City Year journey, I thought my job would be to break down the stereotypical generalizations of inner-city school students such as being dumb, lazy, ignorant, gang-banging hoodlums on welfare with violent attitudes. I was under the impression that I would be "saving" students and giving them the necessary resources I had to succeed.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Do these students need stereotypes broken down on their behalf? Yes. But do they need saving? Absolutely not.

Stereotypes are given from an outside perspective of what we believe to be inadequate but the only thing these students are lacking are resources. They are a product of their environment and have to persevere and fight through many obstacles daily. Having a rough exterior only comes with the territory but they respond and are successful when their educational environment includes an adult who is fun, strict, inclusive, mutually respectful, and demanding of excellence. An adult who can thoroughly explain information, make sure students are on track, and ultimately cares about their well-being.

I believe this is where City Year comes in. We not only encompass these qualities we are also the "eyes" and "ears" on the inside that can negate negative stereotypes placed on our students. With love, respect and knowledge these students are reaching far greater heights than one may expect.

I serve because #BlackLivesMatter and I want to show others that they, too, matter and can serve to change the stereotypes placed on them by the world.

So the next time you say or hear a stereotype of inner-city students, just think: is it this really about them, or your own lack of understanding?

If you enjoyed this story please check out:


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Communities In Schools Site Director & CYNY alum reflects on the impact of our team serving at John Liecthy Middle School. 

The Call to Serve: from Watts, Boyle Heights, Koreatown & South L.A.

Featuring AmeriCorps members Chloe, Navi, Audrey & Richard. 


AmeriCorps members share how they dedicate their hearts to service, just in time for Valentine's Day.





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