As summer quickly approaches and the school year begins to wind down, our AmeriCorps members take the time to reflect on their growth and service journey this year. Those thoughts and lessons manifest into Personal Reflection Projects. A Personal Reflection Project can be any form of expression — slideshow, drawing, video, poem — that reflects your experience during your year of service. 

Watch below as AmeriCorps member Raul Cabral (New Open World Academy) shares his remix of a J.Cole song to leave a message for one of his 6th-grade students. 

Original Song: "Power Trip" by J.Cole


Allow to me introduce myself, My name is Raul Cabral and I’m a City Year AmeriCorps member proudly serving at NOW Academy.

Growing up, I learned that I was more often frightened than hurt: and I suffered more from imagination than reality.

So my main motive to stand up right here is based off my morality.


Rapping is not my profession I have to admit.

But I got this confession that I must transmit.

The past 9 months have been difficult to commit.

But I promised myself that I will continue and persist .


Let me tell you about a particular focus list student.

Projected to be a statistic cause his English isn’t fluent.

Stereotyped to commit a crime however.

He should only be getting that T 2 support time.


At age 11 he struggles to write a sentence.

Falling behind so you know time is of the essence.

His adolescence was challenged by the presence of oppression.

His facial expression portrays a life of aggression.

This child is in need of proper attention.

Sensitive kid in a cole world, he needs a blanket

To him this poor world is like another planet.


However the future will unveil his talent.


I can’t stop thinking about this poor young fellah.

Staying quiet as my thoughts turn acapella.

He feels left out, so I will not leave him behind.

The individual you’re witnessing is the student in my mind.


I worry about my students thinking about my past.

Being broke and cloudy days was my daily forecast.


Honest good kid with a misunderstood image.

But even then, my students checked my own privilege.


Growing up poor was not a setback in life; I owe it to my success.

Although I’ve been through so much pain and distress.

I can proudly say that I serve in a tribe called best.

Service isn’t easy, but I’m too blessed to be stressed.

Life is a professor, building character is my test.   


I hated being such a sensitive person.

I thought it meant that I was fragile and insecure.

But it allowed me to be gradual and pure.

Take away that single trait, then you cause me to hate.

Take away my intuition, I’ll lose my acquisition.

To be empathetic and be aware of other peoples’ pain.

I appreciate the small things, theirs so much to be gained.

To appreciate the sun, you gotta to smile when it rains.


Being sensitive made me mentally artistic.

Getting a college diploma became realistic.

Let it be known, that I’m proud to be called a statistic.

Proud of my heritage, it's what I inherited.

Where I’ve been and who I’ve become.

Has given me hope, that my students will succeed and overcome.

Grateful for my 888 parents to raise a family out of poverty.

Their presence in my life has been greater than a lottery.


Working all day coming home after sunset

Now they can rest and watch their son rise.

A wise man said don’t take the street out of you.

An important lesson that I teach to the youth.

My skin color is a quality that I cherish.

My complexion is a gift and not a blemish.

If they don't know your dreams then they can't shoot them down.

I’m a prideful young prince that’s ready to be crowned.


I deeply thank you for letting me express myself for now feel I replenished.

The end of our service is pretty near, so embellish your role in City Year,

Once again I’m blessed to serve at Now Academy.

Honored to serve my community with my team right beside me.

Although we all met first randomly, I’m happy to say that I can call you all my family.


Follow the New Open World Academy team (@cyla_nowteam) on Instagram!

If you enjoyed this story please check out:

"City Year has impacted my teaching."

Teachers from 93rd St. Elementary School talk about how they benefit from City Year in their class.

Ms. Sally: "We wouldn't make it without [City Year]" 

A campus aide of 13 years still looks forward to seeing our yellow jackets every morning.

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