Daniel Becton served as a corps member with City Year San Jose in 2009-2010 and as a Team Leader and staff member with City Year London from 2010 to 2012.
This year I am voyaging to every state in the country, spending one week in one community in each state and Washington, D.C. The mission of this trip is to celebrate and support service across the nation, and to highlight the individuals and organizations that dedicate their time, skills and energy to helping others. Project Ubuntu is set to visit 15 City Year sites in addition to 36 other partners, and the third overall week was spent supporting City Year New Hampshire.
I was deeply moved by the excellence and integrity of the program in Manchester, and felt its members truly embody City Year’s core values of “spirit, discipline, purpose and pride.” Here are some glimpses into that experience:
One thing that makes City Year New Hampshire corps members truly unique is their remarkable energy. This enthusiasm grows when they feed off one another, and it translates powerfully in the classroom and school environment. Here you can witness first-year corps member Grace Slobodzian and her “third-grade roller coaster.” This is just one of many creative, effective tactics that ignites the spirit of fellow corps members and students alike.
CYNH corps members demonstrate discipline throughout the year by remaining consistent, positive role models for children despite working long hours on a very small stipend. They uphold behavioral standards while in uniform and also come together for a weekly “Unity Rally” in which they perform physical exercises in tandem. City Year members channel their diversity and skills into the mission of a “corps” — a group of people acting under common direction — through impressive discipline. Here you can witness a “motivation check,” one component of a Unity Rally.
No corps member would be able to complete the challenging year without a sense of purpose, and CYNH corps members dedicate their year of service to a variety of inspirations. I was struck by the profundity of first-year corps member Jim Irby when he told me why he joined the organization. Jim’s academic interest is in conflict resolution but he felt compelled to go beyond his studies and to serve in the field. “Being good at school is one thing, but it’s not really what makes you able to change the world,” he says. Here you can see his simple, eloquent description of purpose.
Of the four values, this is the trickiest one to get right. Too much pride produces vanity that increases social division, but not having enough pride will weaken any force. Team Leader Aaron Mohammed explained his difficult experience as a black Muslim-American in a 9/11 site reflection, and I asked him to articulate how he is able to achieve that crucial balance of pride across identities.