By Niki Navarro, Service Leader serving on the Henry Wilson Elementary School Team.
What do you get when you put fourteen young people together who have a passion for change and justice for Manchester, NH? You get the 2019-2020 Senior AmeriCorps team at City Year New Hampshire! The Senior AmeriCorps team is comprised of three outstanding AmeriCorps VISTAs and eleven Service Leaders who have big goals this year and even bigger hearts, all of whom have dedicated not just one, but two or more years of service to Manchester.
When I began my City Year journey last year, I never would have imagined myself staying an additional year, but I had no idea at the time that working so closely with the Manchester community would leave me and others with such a strong desire to stay and do it again. Along with having a passion for serving students and schools in the community, as a Senior Corps team we each have unique and varying interests that allows for new learning and perspectives.
As a Senior Corps Member, we actually start training a whole month before the new corps arrives. This is a time for team building, working on our mission statement, and working to prepare for the new members. As a group, many of us had not worked together directly but knew that we were each friendly enough. Throughout the weeks we had time to truly connect and spend time with only each other. One particularly personal activity we did during our month of training in July was share with one another a 5-minute synopsis of our lives, called “Life’s Work,” where we shared as much information about ourselves as we wanted. This was significant because you could sense in the room that there was a certain level of trust already established despite us knowing one another all perfectly well. Trust is one of our highest values as a team, and as we planned for the arrival of our AmeriCorps members in August, we knew that trust would be an important part of their experience too.
We also spent significant time thinking about what we hoped to be as a leadership team. A huge focus for us was: how we will serve as role models and mentors the new group of incoming AmeriCorps members?
One workshopping session we had over the summer was to create a mission statement and a vision statement. This was a time where we were able to highlight our collective goals and hopes for the year. Our final draft ended up presenting as this:
As Senior Corps Members, we will foster inclusivity and belonging by supporting, advocating for and communicating with the corps and each other. We will model excellence and hold each other and the corps members accountable to the same high standards, while providing authentic leadership experiences.
Though we all work in different ways, we all care about City Year and the work more than we could say in words. We are all different, have different interests and yet at the end of the day, these are some of the most dedicated, passionate, funny, and inspiring young people I have had the pleasure of working with. I am looking forward to the legacy we will leave at this site.