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How City Year really prepares you for “the real world”

City Year strongly believes in the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, so it is invaluable to have the ability to build relationships with other adults who have an impact on students’ lives. As an AmeriCorps member, each day serving in a school is spent communicating with partner teachers, school administration, team members, school staff, students, and community members. These relationships begin to grow from the first day on campus and blossom throughout the year to be one of the most meaningful aspects of one’s service year.

In college, I studied broadcast journalism, a field I worked in for a full year before realizing it was not what I was meant to do, so when I first joined City Year, I didn’t know what to expect. I was moving to a completely new place away from all my family and friends.

However, as I began working with the students and school community, I found fulfillment I had not yet experienced, and what I didn’t realize was where this fulfillment was coming from and how much I would grow my ability to build relationships, a critical element of City Year’s work and key to its impact.

As mentors, City Year AmeriCorps members are still young enough to remember the experiences their students are going through while also having experience from which students can learn. This helps them to be there for students during challenging times when students may not have anyone else with whom they feel comfortable. Teachers serve as older, more “adult” role models, and City Year builds “near-peer” relationships, gaining students’ trust and confidence, which is vital to student achievement.

The “near-peer” relationships help students work through personal and school-related issues, and such strong, meaningful relationships make coming to school a more positive experience.

“[City Year] goes the extra mile to build that relationship, and I believe that relationships are what help students succeed,” said one administrator.

The relationships AmeriCorps members develop with their students and staff members are ones full of mutual respect and trust. Those qualities are easily transferred to the “real world,” where connecting with bosses, peers, clients, customers, students, families, etc. is a powerful skill that helps you grow as both a person and professional.

When it comes down to it, relationships are what make a job fulfilling when everything else might feel empty. Being able to connect with others on a personal level is something that isn’t taught in any school, but is an extremely valuable skill to possess. That’s something City Year is incredibly good at teaching without ever saying a word.

Allison Gasparetti is from Phillipsburg, NJ and serves as a first year AmeriCorps member at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas. 

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