By Sherry Leung, AmeriCorps Member, Spirit of City Year Award Recipient, Serving at McDonough Elementary School

In the Beloved Community space in the CYNH office, displayed is the City Year motto: “give a year. change the world.”  I can recall on certain instances this year when I’ve found myself staring at it, thinking about how lucky I was to be able to find myself in a position where so much positivity surrounded me daily.  This year, I have been the recipient of so many fortunate gifts- I have watched 25 third graders develop into strong young leaders, I have developed strong friendships with 50 other idealists who are committed to giving back and most importantly, I have found a cause that I am passionate for.  Being a part of City Year has not only shown me what sort of work I want to be doing for the rest of my life, but it has helped me discover what joy is.

When I think about we’ve changed the world as a corps this year, my mind does not automatically think about the number of service hours we’ve completed or how many reading levels my students have jumped.  The success that I think about is hard to quantify. The biggest impact that we’ve left as a corps this year is in the manner in which we have highlighted the stories of successes this year.  Our biggest success has come from our ability to find the silver linings no matter the situation.

I have watched every day since the beginning of service how we have led with kindness.  I have seen my team members every day at school celebrate the little things through the deliverance of having a huge smile on their face when an attendance students walks through the door or cheering shamelessly as their student performs a music solo for the entire school.  I have heard stories of corps members sacrificing sleep to write letters of encouragements or make math and literacy games for their students.  I have been the recipient of hundreds of kind hugs, smiles, high fives and words of encouragement from members of the CYNH community this year.  Everyone this year has selflessly given of themselves to unconditionally be there for others and spread joy.

This year, I have learned how to be a champion for positive change in the world.  I have learned that while positive change can happen in grand sweeping movements, positive change can also happen through the small intentional actions we choose to perform.  I have learned that every little sprinkle of love and kindness can create great ripples in the universe.   I am so thankful for this opportunity and for everything it has given me.  My service year may be coming to close but if there’s one thing I know for certain, I will be carrying the stories, the student moments, and all the random acts of kindness for many many years to come.


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