Adventure awaits wherever you serve with City Year
Grow in a new community while serving with City Year
While working on her City Year application, alum Jessica Butay (Tulsa ’19, ‘20) reached the question: Where would you like to apply to serve? A Hawai'i native living in Colorado for college, Jessica initially selected City Year Denver. "That's where I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the United Way of Weld County Colorado where I promoted reading programs for children, and that's my college town."
But when she saw that she could select a few additional locations, Jessica was inspired to check the "serve where most needed" box.
"I've never explored the mainland—or any other state [outside Colorado]," she said. She thought it'd be a great opportunity to explore new regions of the United States, while still supporting students and communities through education.
Serve students and schools "where most needed"
Soon after Jessica applied, a City Year recruiter reached out and asked her how she'd feel about serving in Tulsa. "I was excited for this new adventure, but I was also nervous because I'd never been to Oklahoma before. And my parents had never even heard of Oklahoma! I literally had to show them a map like, 'Oh, Oklahoma's here.'"
To help her get to know her new City Year community before she moved, Jessica turned to social media. "The more I looked at the Instagram posts from City Year, it just made me so excited and ready for this challenge."
Additionally, Jessica said the City Year staff helped her feel prepared for her move to the central region of the U.S. "Prior to moving here, we were sent a pack of information like housing, transportation, and also the map of where the school was," recalls Jessica. "I felt like that was very calming to read. It was really helpful to read a little more about what City Year's about, to learn about the uniform and so forth."
Jessica was also added to a Facebook group where she could meet and begin getting to know her teammates. There Jessica learned that a majority of the AmeriCorps members serving with City Year Tulsa were also moving from out of state. "It was really refreshing because I felt like it wasn't only me going through this, it was also my team members. So, sharing that same nervousness made me think, 'Oh, okay, I'm not the only one. If everyone can do it, so can I.'"
Getting to know a new place
"You have to really explore and get to know a place. When you get to know the community, you're going to understand the kids that you serve and the community that you serve."
Shortly after she moved to Tulsa, Jessica and her teammate quickly set out to explore all the city has to offer. Together, they traveled downtown, and organized hikes and camping trips to nearby parks. Spending time with nature is something Jessica loves, and in Tulsa, there is no shortage of natural beauty. "There are tons of parks, but my favorite one is called the Rose Garden. People usually think it's just like a regular park, but if you walk deeper into it, you will find the actual garden."
Getting to know your community isn't just about the bigger attractions and parks. "Just do the little things," Jessica says, "like going to the library, finding out what the community's about, going to a coffee shop and meeting the people, meeting Tulsa residents. It's pretty awesome."
"Day by day, everything is new. Every day is a new day, a new experience, and I'm loving it."
Is serving with City Year right for you?
Each year, 29 City Year sites across the nation recruit young people to work with students to help them reach their potential. Like Jessica, City Year AmeriCorps members move across the country for service and fall in love with their schools and communities at large. If you would like to fall in love with a new city and make a difference in the lives of students, connect with a recruiter to learn more about serving with City Year.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2018; it's been updated in September 2022.
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