Spirit. Discipline. Purpose. Pride.
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve … you only need a heart of grace, a soul generated by love.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, JR.
The bottom line: I’m pretty positive I am not qualified to teach a bunch of students. Last time I checked, you’re required to have a degree in education and pass some sort of state mandated examination. I have not done either of those things, so the question I keep receiving from family and friends is “why?”
I can’t say that I joined to get away from school for a year, but it is a nice plus. I can’t say it’s because I dreamed of joining AmeriCorps. I honestly had no idea who they were until about four weeks ago (or who City Year was, for that matter). So why have I given a year of my life to this mission?
Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not doing enough?
When I was eleven years old, my Girl Scout troop had our father-daughter dance at a Children’s Home. I remember walking up the paved sidewalk and watched as bunch of kids smoked by the entrance of the Home. My Father told me not to talk to them. Naturally, I asked why. He told me that they didn’t have the care they needed to make good choices, and that since I was so young my mind could be easily persuaded. Of course, I asked why again.
He told me that some of the children no longer had parents. Shocked, I asked why. He told me that sometimes parents don’t have enough time for their children. I asked why. He said, “Sarai, they just don’t.”
I remember being so upset. I made a promise to myself that day. I would become the next Oprah Winfrey, and let all the children without homes stay in my basement that would be tricked out with slides, bikes, and cool cubbies that could turn into beds.
Well, I am not the next Oprah Winfrey, and I’m pretty positive that keeping a bunch of kids in your basement is a little sketchy … but ever since then, I’ve had a passion for children who don’t necessarily have the opportunities that I was given. I’ve grown up in a privileged life. My parents were always ragging on me to aspire to be great, to reach for the stars. I’ve never understood how a mother or a father could leave the fate of their child up to chance, but I know that my life has certainly been blessed with all these beautiful faces that I’ve been working with for the past 8 years of my life.
As a new Corps member, I would define this organization as a powerful tool helping students in specific parts of the U.S. achieve his/her potential as well as impacting the surrounding communities. All of the students we interact with this year have the potential to be great, because of the young men and women who decided to give a year, to change the world.
Why did I join City Year? Why have I given up a year of college? Why am I working with children for next 10 months?
Because I am, finally, empowered to do so.