Written by Christopher Potter, 22, from Arlington, MA serving on the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Team at Beech Street Elementary School
“Cathedral Building” does exactly what a founding story should. It has given me perspective this year, and reminded me how I make a big difference day-by-day.
In the story, three laborers are asked about their job breaking up rocks. One is focused on what he’s presently doing, another is just trying to feed his family, but the third laborer considers his work to be building a cathedral. In reality, it took 182 years to build the Notre Dame Cathedral. The laborers who broke ground all died before it was consecrated, but without their work it wouldn’t stand today.
Similar to this story, my work is to inspire elementary school students to stay in school, but the reality is that students will continue to dropout during my corps year, and perhaps for years to come. I know that, but I also know that my teammates and I are hard at work building a better future, one reading session and one high-five at a time. Our students are academically getting back on track, seeing great role models, and enjoying school. Next year, more corps members will continue this work.
Someday, students will have corps members tutoring and encouraging and inspiring them from elementary school through high school. The dropout rate will plummet. Those students, as adults, will pass on greater opportunities and strong values to their children. American cities will be radically transformed.
I can’t make that a reality before June, but nor could those cathedral builders finish Notre Dame. I believe my work at Beech Street Elementary School makes measurable progress towards that goal, and I see that City Year is a strong institution to carry on the work. Knowing that gives me energy, satisfaction, and hope. I’m glad to be a part of the project.