Winning the Spirit of City Year Award

Written by Andy Jordan, 23 years old from Milford, MA, serving as The Team Leader at Parker-Varney Elementary School co-sponsored by Dartmouth-Hitchcock and The TJX Companies, Inc.
DSC_0738As I reflect on two years of service at City Year New Hampshire, a lot of feelings, emotions, and moments come to mind. Winning the Spirit of City Year Award has been truly an honor and a blessing in disguise as it’s helped me to actively reflect on my experiences. Through frustration and exhaustion, a higher level of poise and maturity rises. Through conflict and disagreement, a higher level of acceptance and communication rises. Through struggle and negativity, a higher level of success and positivity rises.

Coming to City Year, I had no idea what I was getting into. It seemed like some great service work in a school for a year or maybe two with the potential of landing a job afterwards. Although this has become partially true, it is so much more than what it seems. The amazing staff at CYNH challenges you to fully immerse yourself in the City Year experience and I can say, proudly, that I dove in head first. Do exercises on display in front of City Hall? Sure thing. Surround yourself with elementary school students four days a week? You got it. Work harder on after-school lesson plans and parent engagement nights than you worked on college essays? Okay. Share your story in front of board members and members of the New Hampshire Legislature? Yes. Saying yes to any and all opportunities made my two years incredible. Although I didn’t know what I was getting into, I certainly got a lot out of it.

Picture1Now I’m thinking about just how much I’ve really learned. At City Year we have our “I learned” statements. Not only are we asked to commit to ten months of full-time national service, we are then asked to sum it up in a sentence or maybe two. Last year, I learned that a positive outlook can take you anywhere. This year, I learned that I am broken. I kind of did a 180 on that one. But after hearing Bryan Stevenson, a speaker at City Year’s National Leadership Summit, talk about the idea of brokenness, I knew what I had learned was true.

Bryan Stevenson has been an advocate for justice for many years and works closely with people on death row. He spoke of a realization he had after a conversation with an inmate who had their execution date pushed forward. The conversation was a struggle and he found himself not knowing what to say to this broken man. He realized that he doesn’t do what he does for all the recognition, or meaning, or money. He realized that he does what he does because he is broken too. This to me exemplifies the highest level of Ubuntu there is. Truly living through and connecting to others. So although I may have learned that I am broken, I know that in brokenness I can see things I might not have otherwise seen and help people who I might not have otherwise helped. In the end, I grow and benefit just as much as anyone else.

DSC_0868My experience and the recognition I’ve received is largely due to the people I have in my life and who have supported me on this journey. My amazing family and friends, ready to build me up after any fall. My amazing teams of the last two years’, teaching me that it’s okay to be me. My amazing managers and staff team, investing in me more than anyone I’ve ever known. My amazing students, who opened my eyes to many more things than I did for them. With all these amazing people in my life, I’m just trying to keep up.


About CityYear NH

City Year is a nonprofit that unites young people of all backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time service. As tutors, mentors, and role models, these idealistic leaders make a difference in the lives of children, and transform schools and neighborhoods across the US and in South Africa. For more information on how to get involved please call the City Year New Hampshire Recruitment hotline at 603-218-5101.
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3 Responses to Winning the Spirit of City Year Award

  1. Susan Golden says:

    So very proud of you Andy!!! Susan

  2. Carol Jordan says:

    Dearest Andy – You know me, beyond my concern for your dental hygiene, lives my deepest dream of a life of purpose, fulfillment, wisdom, and most of all joy for you, your sister, and now for all of your new found friends at CYNH. Thank you for explaining your “broken” statement. At first look, I thought that I had failed you in some way. But after reading the experiences of Bryan Stevenson, I totally understand what you are saying and I applaud you in your humble ability to spread joy wherever you go and recognize that we are all putting ourselves together in the great journey of life. I so enjoyed being at this year’s graduation, not only to see your wonderful speech and congratulate you on your Spirit of City Year Award, but to watch all your corps member friends and staff cheer you on, greet you, hug you, and most of all love you. This is a parent’s most desired wish….that you know and experience true love. You and your fellow CYNH friends surely have that in abundance. What a thrill for all of the parents to see and watch the greatness at graduation and beyond.

  3. Mike says:

    Congratulations, Andy! Keep up the great work and keep striving to achieve. I’m proud of you man.

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