Today’s guest blogger is Jazmin Johnson. Jazmin is a Second Year AmeriCorps member serving on the Alcoa Team at PS 154X in the South Bronx.

“I dedicate my red jacket to all of the students I have worked with in the past, those I work with now, and the ones I will get to work with in the future. I dedicate my red jacket to the students who think they’re not good enough or smart enough. I want to help them see how truly amazing they are.”

At the end of February, City Year New York was immersed in our annual Mid-Year Summit. During this week, we spend time thinking about our post-City Year plans, broadening our knowledge of important matters that impact our students as well as ourselves, and participating in activities that bring us closer together as a whole site. As with most activities at City Year, there is also a lot of reflection happening during Mid-Year Summit. One reflection ceremony is the Red Jacket Dedication. We share our motivations for serving so that we can encourage and inspire one another to finish the year off strong.

Silence filled the room, with 50 of us sitting in a circle. One by one, each person shared what or who they dedicated their red jacket too. One aspect of the City Year corps that I have always appreciated is people’s willingness to share personal details about themselves, no matter how difficult. I was moved by many of the dedications I heard and being in that moment, I started thinking about this journey I embarked on over a year and a half ago.

Being a Second Year AmeriCorps member is much like reading an interesting, yet complex novel for the second time. For the most part, you understand the gist of what’s going on and what to expect while still discovering new perspectives and details while rereading. It is because of this familiarly, I have been able to see my service in a new light.

During my first year of service, I was engulfed in my own experience and it was difficult to understand how my teammates were taking in City Year for themselves. With all that happens at a school every day, I rarely got to reflect with my teammates who did not serve in the same grade as me, since our class schedules were so different. This year, however, has been the exact opposite. From the moment I stepped into the very first circle with my new team, I realized that I was stepping into this new experience for my teammates. Each of them would find joy, confusion, and challenges with a lot of the same things I have already been through.

As much as I love my students and the work I get to do each day, I've realized that making a difference to my students would be a million times harder without my team. As my teammates rose and dedicated their red jackets, I felt like I was standing with them, each and every time. Their motivations to serve, fill me with a sense of purpose and pride just as much as my own. I feel more charged than ever to put my all into these final months of service and I'll do it because my students deserve it, and my team deserves it. 

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