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What I Learned from Students

The insults they sling are something fierce.

  • “Now, you know you are too old to be this corny. Know you too old for this.”
  • “Your hair look like a cup of noodles.”
  • “My outfit (Adidas tracksuit) costs more than you.”

Their memory is iron tight when they want something.

  • “When you gone show us your real hair? You promised us in the beginning of the year.”
  • “Remember when you promised to get me (insert item here) for being on time to class this week? Yeah! Thought I forgot huh?”

They care for those that care back.

  • “You coming back next year, right? Why you not coming back? Just think about all the good you did this year. What you mean? I still need your help. Think about all those freshmen next year that’s gone need your help. Was you just selling us hope all along and you didn’t really care? You need to come back.”

What I Learned from City Year Milwaukee

Growth is positive.
I often think about how in the beginning I was very “go-with-the-flow” and ready for the next tasks to complete. However, as the year inched by I grew restless and depleted of energy and I had to challenge myself to change my point of view. Service is hard because we invest so much of ourselves into the success of our students. I liken service to an endless game of tug-of-war. There are days where wins are easy and others where we have to fight hard for a win. Growth occurs from hard wins. There are a lot of strategies put into play for that hard win. I think it is during that time you are able to level up.

PITW # 183: Honesty will set us free.
I think it goes without saying that these past two years with City Year Milwaukee has been a journey of growth both professionally and personally. I had to be honest with myself and others to be successful. If I constantly wore a mask nothing would be genuine and people can feel that energy. I had to be honest with myself, my team, and our students to be successful.

Spice is nice.
What some people call “being mean” I like to call it “outwardly observant.” It all comes down to the intention. Over the course of two years, I’ve tackled difficult conversations and mastered them. When I’m told something was mean my immediate reaction is good. Why? Because that means it inspired something in you to move to action. Not that being mean is something to aspire to be, but I think if we all operate from areas of truthfulness and positivity then a message that could be considered mean just turns out to be from a place of love and care.

Article by Halina Sims, City Year Milwaukee Senior AmeriCorps Member

"I serve for those coming from disadvantaged communities, so our youth and elders have the space necessary to obtain the tools and skills vital to success, in any shape and form that comes to them."

Are you interested in doing a service year with City Year Milwaukee? Do you know someone who may be interested in helping students reach thier full potential? Visit to learn more about how to apply. 

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