be_ixf;ym_202405 d_29; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

The Impact of Service

One of the most interesting parts of service is the people that you meet along the way. From the staff members that we work with at City Year to the communities we serve and everything in between.

My first year was a fantastic experience, having experienced a multitude of new things along the way. While I could write for days about the various students that I work with each bringing something new to my journey I also want to highlight the conversations I get to have with various staff members that deepen my understanding on the work we do in the communities that we serve in.

One of my favorite things to ask about is how they fell into working with youth or in education in general. I use “fell” here because many of them that I have asked have all told me in one way or another that it was a long journey, and it often wasn’t a straight path from A to B. Something that I picked up amongst all these conversations is the spark and drive that they all carry which is what in my opinion makes this community so special. They want to improve upon the current state of education and make a positive impact on the students that flow through their classrooms and lives.

One teacher in particular I had asked “what keeps you going and how do you deal with the lack of closure?” and their answer wasn’t surprising after processing it, but it shocked me in the moment. It was simply knowing and believing in their students and the work they had put in will serve their students in the future and that they were in the work because they truly enjoyed it and expected nothing out of it outside of knowing that they played a part in their journey.

This had expanded on what our missions and our year of service truly meant and the words “Service to a cause greater than self” finally clicked for me. Those moments are amongst some of the things that make the service year so special and I’m grateful to have gotten the chance to serve my first year and look forward to what my second year will bring.

Above: Zhicong (center) leads AmeriCorps members in painting garden beds for Earl Warren Elementary’s community garden

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