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Reflecting on a year of service: Emilio Monahan

When you step into a classroom, it’s often assumed that the adult will be the one teaching the students. However, the truth is, it is the students who teach you the most valuable lessons. Emilio Monahan, who recently completed his first year of service and will be returning next year as part of the Civic Engagement team, shares how inspired he felt to see the growth and perseverance of his students.

“I came into this experience not having any idea of how much of an impact the service year would have on others and me. Before moving to Los Angeles, I was in my home state of Washington, preparing to graduate college. Not only was I closing a chapter of my life but also seeking a new purpose. I was seeking something I could put all my energy into and feel good about the work I did. When I found out about City Year Los Angeles, I knew I had to take a leap of faith and see if this was the right path for me. I made the move, despite knowing I would leave everything I ever knew in Washington. I was assigned to Lovelia Flournoy Elementary School, where I met my team and fourth grade students that I would be getting to work with.

Once I began working with these students in class and at recess, I immediately noticed how different their perspectives, humor and passions were to one another. It became clear to me that we had a major role as AmeriCorps members to be the best leaders we knew how to be to these young scholars: to be the leader, near-peer mentor or friend that some of us might’ve needed while growing up or still need to this day.

Working with these students day-to-day and watching them grow into the young leaders they are will forever be the most rewarding experience.

I had the privilege to watch Laura, a student who would not speak or interact with others, ease into socializing and work with others in academic spaces with my consistent motivation and presence. I got to witness, Madison and Arthur go from being closed off to their emotions to now communicating their fears and anxieties about school and relationships and eventually getting them to share their joys and appreciations during Planned Social Emotional Development time and Extended Learning Time. The days were long, but these students made it worth the energy and commitment.

Looking back, I feel like I’m a new person – healed by the kindness and comradery I’ve found within my team and students. I’ve developed my skillset and grown into my authentic self which has helped me do my best work. This is only my experience, but I want to remind you that the more than 100 AmeriCorps members I served along with made a difference this year as well, especially with the lingering feelings that the pandemic left, not only for students but to many around the world.”

CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA – MAY 06: City Year AmeriCorps members attend City Year LA’s Spring Break Destination Education at Sony Pictures Studios on May 06, 2023 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

There is so much to learn from our students, and through rapport, a life-changing relationship begins. If you or someone you know is interested in a year of service, click here for more information.

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