By David Berris
AmeriCorps member serving on the Horning Family Fund team at Anacostia High School
Serving at Anacostia High School has been the quintessential definition of a beautiful struggle. I have never done something so rewarding, yet so emotionally and physically draining in my life...and I wouldn’t change it for anything!
Every day is a new challenge and in many ways, a new adventure that you are taking with your students. While truancy can be an issue, the students who are there every day are the ones that are ready to learn and succeed and I think that is where our team has thrived. Our team is proud of the relationships we have built with our students, which is arguably the most important part of our jobs at City Year. City Year says you can be a successful AmeriCorps member in a variety of different ways, but my team has found that no matter how many events or initiatives we plan, what will truly matter at the end of our service year is the lasting relationships that we have built with our students. It’s a constant battle with our students every single day during small groups to get them to sit down and do one math problem or finish that worksheet that was supposed to be done the previous week, but it’s a battle that's worth fighting for.
Students will ask you if you will be returning next year. You're not there with them to save anyone or be the person in the red jacket that makes or breaks their school year. They are fully functioning humans and while it may not seem like it at first, they have a very clear understanding of the world around them. Each day, my team and I choose to give them something they don’t get anywhere else. Everyday they are in the presence of willing and like-minded people that are merely here to serve. We are there to support them in whatever we can and are allowed to do, which is something I truly believe the Anacostia school community has learned to love about City Year as an organization and our team specifically.
As an AmeriCorps member, I think the most important thing to remember about your day is not the impact you're making this year, but the impact that you're making for the next two or three or ten years to come. You and your team may leave, but what my team has found is that we may come and go, but we are here to make sure our service year accomplished something for future generations of AmeriCorps members, schools and most importantly students. We have stood on the shoulders of giants and now it's your turn.