Dear CYNH alumni,
My name is Yulissa Hidalgo. I am a 22-year-old Dominican-American from New York City. Currently, I serve in a 4th grade classroom at Beech Street Elementary. I am writing to inform you that your year of service is connected to mine, through one of my favorite City Year values- UBUNTU. Ubuntu conveys the idea that a person cannot be complete if others do not enjoy full humanity.
The beauty of Ubuntu lies in its sincere humility. You may know nothing about me besides what I just told you, but this Zulu proverb links us. It may sound like that was my cue for you to start singing kumbaya and start hugging strangers, but it’s not. It is my hope that this blog can help you feel like your year in service is appreciated and to reinforce that your impact continues to grow through my fellow corps members efforts. We are forever tied through service.
In order to present this blog in its sincerest form, I will be talking about two concrete experiences that I have had within my corps year. These distinct moments have reminded me that Ubuntu is not just a word to live by, but a way of life.
When I first arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, I had a terrible day. After traveling for almost seven hours on the eve of my twenty-second birthday, I was stranded. With no place to go to spend the night, I stood on the corner of an unknown street with all my luggage and bawled my eyes out. I am not fond of crying in public or speaking about my emotions openly, however, at that moment, I felt helpless. It was in this very moment that I heard my name coming from a red Volkswagen Beatle. “Hey! Are you okay?” The young woman sitting in the passenger side shouted. “Is that Yulissa?” I heard someone from the backseat say. Two of my corps members whom I had friended on Facebook recognized me and came to my rescue. I ended up going to dinner with them and they took me to their apartment. Terri Thomas and Jesula Charles were my first two friends at CYNH and they welcomed me with open arms as if I was a member of their family. Terri is always quick to help and slow to judge. Jesula has taught me that “service is never forgetting what people have done for you.” I could not have wished for a better birthday gift than for a sense of security amidst the chaos of moving to a new and different city.
About a month ago, Beech Street had their first Math Night. We had first year and senior year corps members representing each of our six partnership schools present to help us out. We came together for the purpose of engaging students in the universal language of math. It was successful to the point that students did not want to go home. We were surprised to see so many students in the first place, since it had been such a snowy and chilly week.
These two experiences may not be as close to your heart as they are to mine. I do not expect them to be. I expect them to be inspiring and strong enough to help you reinforce your faith in humanity. There are people from all over the nation coming together to help our youth become better students and eventually, exemplary citizens. During a collegiate service trip to Nicaragua, I found the following quote in a church mural: “manos que dan nunca estaran vacias” which translates to “hands that give will never be empty.” These words are my translation of Ubuntu and it is my duty to spread this message to as many people I encounter. Do not fret alumni, your work is continuing to flourish and it is in good hands.
Yours in Service,