My name is Chaveli Zolorsano and I am a UCLA alumna from Inglewood, CA. This year, I am returning to proudly serve a second year as an AmeriCorps Team Leader at 99th Street Elementary in Watts . I serve because I have navigated the education system and acquired a wealth of experiences that are meant to be shared. I would not be where I am today without the help of my comunidad (community).

City Year has taught me that one learns best when they assume positive intentions and face a task with an open heart and open mind. While serving as a first-year AmeriCorps member, I was presented with opportunities to exercise my leadership skills. I was a Corps Council representative for my team, served as a Service Ambassador, and organized my school partnership's annual "Coffee with the Corps" amongst other things. 

I don't think I would have accomplished being comfortable with sharing my thoughts and ideas or speaking to large groups had I not embraced the City Year culture that emphasizes openness and flexibility. I remember when I first began my service I was designated as the point person to attend the supper training and special education training. I was tasked to learn new information and bring it back to my team. In the beginning, I was very intimidated that I would not be able to relay the information adequately. The challenge was getting over my fear of presenting to my team. (Who am I to present this? I’m not an expert.) Therefore, I took what was given to me, researched the material, added to it or removed information to tailor it to my team. Then, I felt prepared to answer questions after familiarizing myself with the material. I became a resource for my teammates and they were able to obtain valuable information. 

Returning for a second year of service as a Team Leader, I have a responsibility to share my experiences with the incoming corps and help guide them as they develop into our future leaders. However, leading others is no easy feat; my advice for anyone doubting themselves in a leadership role is to always have the courage to ask for help. Like Isaac Newton once said, "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Why reinvent the wheel when you have legacy of giants to lean on?


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