Diversity, Equity & My Experience
As we work with students to be successful inside and outside of the classroom, we also work with them to be open-minded and mindful of their peers who may be different than one another. With discrimination still taking a toll nationwide and here locally in San Antonio, City Year has created safe spaces for AmeriCorps members to express their concerns and to brainstorm how school teams can incorporate culturally responsive practices in the classroom and schoolhouse.
As a Corps member, I learned during my onboarding with City Year that it is important to understand that everyone comes from different backgrounds and cultures. In order to have a comfortable and safe work environment, there must be mutual respect. As Corps members, we learn that diversity, belonging, inclusion and equity (DBIE) is not only fundamental to the values at City Year, but focusing on DBIE is critical to our work in schools. More than 30 years ago, City Year was built on the belief that uniting and empowering diverse teams of idealist young people and charging them with solving some of our country’s most difficult challenges can change the world for the better. Today, we continue to hold onto the importance of DBIE because we know that real proximity to people from different backgrounds gives us empathy, improving our ability to develop meaningful relationships with other Corps members, with our students and with the other people in our lives.
As a way of showing support and care, City Year has spaces for AmeriCorps members to be a part of affinity groups based on how we identify. Having these spaces is significant because not all jobs offer these kinds of opportunities, and it is a way to let members know that we are not alone.
When I first started City Year and learned these identity spaces existed, I was a bit skeptical. I thought, “How is this going to work?” Once I entered the Black affinity group, I was mind-blown. There were more than two other people who looked like me! I felt comfortable talking about things that in previous professional roles would have been labeled as too taboo for dialogue. This was my first time letting my guard down and the first time I felt truly comfortable in my own skin at work.
I appreciate the way in which City Year keeps DBIE at the forefront of our work in schools. As an organization that is committed to long-term partnerships with students in systemically under-resourced communities and schools, City Year’s focus on DBIE helps me to be a more effective tutor, mentor and role model to the students I have the privilege of working with each day.
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