be_ixf;ym_202407 d_24; ct_100 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

A Day in the Life of Virtual Service

City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps members at Opening Day in September, 2019
The Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts team celebrating the start of their year of service at City Year Milwaukee’s Opening Day, September 2019

Like so many others around the world, those of us serving at City Year Milwaukee have experienced major adjustments to our daily routines as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Being physically distant from our teammates, school partners, support systems and scholars is difficult on its own, but the suddenness and uncertainty have presented additional challenges. 

Read an update on City Year’s response to the Coronavirus situation.

I had a clear vision for the remaining months of service as a Team Leader with City Year Milwaukee: planning social-emotional learning and attendance initiatives with my team, enjoying time with my eight incredible teammates, watching the talented students at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts prepare for their production of High School Musical and seeing my eighth grade scholars, who I’ve seen grow so much over the past two years, graduate middle school. It is hard to not know if these things I’ve been so excited for will happen. It’s even hard to admit how hard it is, because I want to remain positive and hopeful. In all of this, however, there is still so much that I love about serving with City Year Milwaukee. 

City Year AmeriCorps members during a virtual meetingI get to start each morning in a virtual meeting with my team, where we set our intention for the day. We sip on our morning coffee, share our “roses and thorns,” and catch up on news, deadlines and all of the happenings in our lives. Even though we are physically apart, we still get to start the day together just like we did at school. This is my favorite part of each day because we still find so much to talk about, and my teammates are truly my sunshine.  

Once a week, we have a site-wide briefing where everyone at City Year Milwaukee gathers together for a virtual call. After sharing how we are feeling, what is bringing us joy and any important announcements, we are given information on what to expect for the coming week, as well as useful tips and tools for working from home. This is something we always do when we are together for training days and they are a great way of building community within our corps. They are just as unifying and engaging virtually, and have definitely been a highlight while working at home. 

Most days, we have the opportunity to attend Life’s Works sessions, where our AmeriCorps members and staff present on their experiences so far leading up to their service with City Year Milwaukee. So many people have had the opportunity to share their Life’s Works since we started our virtual service. Learning more about the experiences and perspectives of the people I serve alongside has been a joy.  

Other sessions we have the opportunity to attend are documentaries and dialogues, social justice discussions, and other sessions facilitated by AmeriCorps members about topics they are passionate about.  

We also participate in daily trainings from City Year headquarters, which City Year AmeriCorps members nationwide take part in. It is really exciting to see the representation from all different sites and to learn more about individuals from other cities. Serving virtually has made it possible to communicate and learn from people hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.  

The rest of my day is filled with individual check-ins with my teammates, committee meetings, a debrief with my team and, of course, self-care in the form of long walks by the lake, working on my post-service plans and catching up on my shows. After being on the go constantly for as long as I can remember, I am reminding myself to use this time to slow down, reflect and recharge.  

Transitioning to remote service has been an adjustment, but there is still so much good in every day: virtual teambuilders, uninterrupted and meaningful check-ins, virtual birthday celebrations, an upcoming virtual spirit week, GroupMe messages filled witpositivity, support and resources, the ability to still plan a three day retreat from home for our AmeriCorps members and staff, and the reminder to never take for granted the time I get to spend with others. 

While our direct service in schools is on pause for now, I believe that we can come out of this experience with even more energy, gratitude and knowledge to bring back to our young people. Our last few months of service may not be what we envisioned, but there is still so much to be grateful for and to look forward to when we can all be together again. 

Mina Raj proudly serves as a City Year Milwaukee Team Leader and is a proud alum of State University of New York at Geneseo. When asked why she serves, Mina said, “I serve to bring love and joy into the lives of young people, especially those who have been overlooked or underestimated. I believe that the best way to remind students that they are valued is to show up for them each day with their best interests at heart.”

Check out our Instagram page to learn more about our impact in Milwaukee, and see a glimpse into what service looks like for our AmeriCorps members.

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