Why I Serve
Growing up is hard. It’s filled with unexpected hurdles, setbacks, and falls. But most importantly, with age comes growth. It’s shedding your childhood to make room for the person you were meant to be. Returning to Little Rock after my first year of college, I developed a deep appreciation for the town I spent my adolescence, ready to flee. I was 19 and had no idea where to go. All my friends had left on their journeys, and I was alone to start my own. I learned that, to my surprise, I love my hometown. I love the people, the places, and everything that made it home. It gave so much to me, and I wanted to do something to give back. My mom came to me and suggested City Year, and, at first, I was hesitant to join its program, but over time, it felt right. I applied in May of 2023, and it was the best decision I’ve made for myself.
Sometimes, you have to stumble and fall to find your place. After my first day, I felt a shift in who I was. For the first time, I felt like I was where I was meant to be and doing what I was supposed to do. We spent the first-week training and learning about our service and its importance. I realized quickly that this was more than a job for me. It was a place to plant my roots and grow and facilitate others’ growth.
Getting into the classroom, I was so nervous. There were so many new faces, and I knew the importance of setting the tone for my relationship with my students and partner teacher for the year. To my surprise, I bonded quickly, and they soon became the highlight of my week. Work was no longer a job but a reason to get out of bed and begin a new day.
Connecting with students has been the highlight of my experience. Hearing their hopes, fears, and dreams and providing a safe space for them to speak openly has been a transformative experience. Above all else, my partner teacher and I have prioritized creating an environment where our kids want to succeed and feel more confident in their learning abilities. School can be hard to navigate, but the right support system makes the road less challenging and more rewarding.
You hear the phrase “be the change you want to see in the world” a lot in life. For a long time, that felt like an abstract concept. How could I change the world as a young girl from Arkansas? One thing I’ve learned is that you can make a change at a small level that can make a difference. I can’t wave a wand and fix global warming, but City Year has provided a space where I can contribute to change by working with young people who are the foundation for change, and I’m entirely grateful for that opportunity.
When I first joined City Year, I was still figuring out what I was doing. My future was a vague and terrifying idea I needed to figure out how to navigate. After all, what’s a person supposed to do with all that future? I never understood how someone could leave high school and have that instant understanding. Through mentorship, I’ve put those pieces together and built a plan that I feel confident in going forward. I don’t feel so lost for the first time in my life. I feel found.
I serve with City Year because I want to be a facilitator for growth for young people and make a difference in the lives of others. I want to work towards the systemic improvement of the town I grew up in, that I learned to love. I want to become a better person and inspire the betterment of others. I want to build a path for my future and develop an achievable plan for success.
If you’re considering applying, I highly encourage anyone to join us in building a better future for the next generation of young people and to invest in yourself and your personal growth.
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