I have been serving with City Year New Hampshire (CYNH) for roughly four years. I’ve been a corps member, working in the schools and directly with students, I have been a senior corps member (second year corps member) working on more specialize projects and helping to lead my peers through their experiences (at work as well as in life), and for the past two years I have served on the staff team in the recruitment department.
There have been very good days in service with CYNH and there have been some truly trying, testing, and hard days as well. As I begin to think of all the memories, taking the bad with the good, as well as the difficult with the inspiring, it reminds me of why I continue to serve here.
In David Letterman fashion, I’d like to list my top 5 reasons for continuing this service and work with CYNH:
5. Hearing the words, “Hey City Year!” from an unknown student in the community.
This is such a joy. It shows how comfortable and safe students feel with anyone who serves with City Year. It is a testament to the relationships our corps and staff build with teachers, students, and families in the community. And frankly-it makes you feel like a rock star much of the time.
4. Making a statement that this generation is not apathetic, but motivated and invested in making things better.
There seems to be this idea that this generation is uber concerned about how much money they will make, being looked at as cool and trendy, and keeping up with only social media as opposed to what’s really happening in the world. Working with City Year, an organization that engages 17-24 years olds, shows that this simply is not the case. With over 2,000 corps member serving now and over 16,000 alumni before them, I think we are making it pretty clear that we are concerned about what is happening in the world and in particular with the state of education for our nation’s children.
3. Seeing the smile on a student’s face when you walk in a room.
It’s hard to get students to pay attention to a subject that they are uninterested in, or better yet, a subject in which they are not doing well. City Year’s main goal is to reduce the national high school dropout rate so, as one can imagine, we do a lot of focusing on academics; and academics where students may be struggling. The fact that a student smiles when a City Year member walks in the room is a small sign that the student is ready to learn and excel in a subject that may have proven to be difficult. Yes, much of the time, the student is excited to spend time with ‘their City Year’, but what does that mean? It means they are excited to sit with this person, go over vocabulary words, math facts, sentence structure, algebra, or all around reading and comprehension.
2. Fostering and cultivating lasting relationships with peers in the organization.
This point is especially poignant here in New Hampshire. Being in City Year is a commitment, not just of time, but of understanding, growth, and team work. When you are in such an intense environment working towards bettering the lives of young people, you begin to rely on those you work with. In New Hampshire particularly, being a medium sized site of roughly 65 corps and staff members, the relationships that we develop with one another are an essential part of the success of our work. Some of my best friends I have met at CYNH, and some of people whom I consider to be personal heroes of mine have been introduced to me by CYNH. Where else can a so called ‘volunteer’ walk into the office of 15 year tenured Executive Director and hold a conversation around how amazing the movie High School Musical is or how The Fame Monster was Lady Gaga’s best album? We work very hard here at CYNH to ensure that people feel as though someone is invested in them and their success with City Year and outside of City Year; I can’t think of another place of business where scheduled feedback is taken as seriously as the service being provided to the community. City Year builds its brand on understanding that progress is dependent on building relationships, and CYNH takes it a step further in understanding that our success is dependent on how we treat the person standing right next to us-in understanding that my humanity is tied to everyone else’s.
1. Inspiring young people to achieve great things and become leaders in this world.
All in all at City Year, we want to empower young people to create change and better the world. Whether it’s getting the young students we work with invested in their education or it’s challenging our very own corps members to move out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to see the world differently, we want young people to lead and achieve monumental things. City Year is about empowerment and ensuring that the younger generation is equipped to lead us all down the road of change and success.
I could continue to list hundreds of reasons why I continue to serve with CYNH. Continuously being inspired and having the ability to inspire others is a rare find in a career; understanding that the work being done is crucial to better our society, as well as positively impactful on a child is something that I get to come in and work on every day.
I feel truly lucky to have found such place.
CYNH Alumni ’08-’09, ’09-‘10