By: Christine Olding
Going into Opening Ceremony, I was uncertain as to what to expect. I was unsure as to what the day would mean to me. I knew what we were going to be doing the red jacket dedication, the opening skit, the testimonials and the pledges. However, what I did not know was how all of those things would make me truly feel. That day I have never felt more a part of something and not alone.
During my two months with this organization I found it difficult to allow those around me to know exactly what I was doing and how I was feeling. No one truly understood. However, during that twelve hour day, I finally felt understood and a part of something bigger than myself. The reasons for that being are endless but for the purposes of this blog I’ll narrow it down to two.
The first being, meeting other City Year Corps members from another site; I knew going into this that there were thousands of other people just like me serving in a variety of cities and schools. However, upon meeting two Corps members from Cleveland, I was face to face with that reality. Though, I was unable to speak with them for a very extended amount of time, it made me realize for the first time, that I, we, were not alone in this. It allowed me to fully grasp the feeling I was longing for, the feeling of togetherness. Though, I have twenty- four other people serving with me, it was different to meet other people from another place going through the same thing. To me, the ceremony allowed me to feel a part of a much bigger whole.
The second thing being, the reality of getting to realize exactly why each one of us is serving here today. Throughout my two months, I have been blessed to get to talk to and get to know each of my fellow Corps members. However, it wasn’t until the red jacket ceremony that I really began to see why they were here through their eyes. It was a very emotional and unique experience for me. I had never been submerged into such an open and honest atmosphere. We all had a variety reasons for serving with City Year, from family members to phrases, the reasons were as different as we are. It truly allowed me to view my fellow Corps members in an unseen light. A light that showed their vulnerabilities and strengths, something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. This experience allowed me to realize that we all are serving for a reason that is much bigger than ourselves.
Now, that the ceremony is over, I realize how much of an impact that it had on me as an individual and on my fellow Corps members as a whole. It allowed us to come together in ways we might not have without those opportunities. I can honestly say that today I feel like a perfect fitting puzzle piece in a picture that is much bigger than anything I could ever imagine. I hope my fellow Corps members feel the same way.