By: Crystal Mcdonald
As a current City Year member, I thought it may be interesting for you readers out there to tell my story of how I ended up in this great organization and shed a little more light on exactly what we do.
While I have always been a humanitarian at heart, and it’s quite funny, a little tangent real quick, when I was younger and was asked what do I want to be when I get older, and this has changed along the way, but I remember the very first thing I ever said in response to the question was an activist. What 6 or 7 year old you know would say that? I was quite the clever kid. While I later learned, or rather thought, that an activist was not really a profession, I developed interests in other careers, but it’s quite interesting that I find myself now right back to my initial desire to become an activist. Ok, now back to what I was saying, while I have always been a humanitarian at heart, I didn’t find myself as active as I liked and towards the end of my junior year in college, while in deep reflection, I realized that I wanted to become more mobilized. So the summer went by and in the fall semester of my senior year, a Peace Corps open house was held at my school and I attended. I thought, this would be perfect, but by the end of the informational I was discouraged because of its competitiveness. So one day, while walking home from campus, I noticed the community center in the neighborhood. It’s not that I hadn’t known it was there, but this was really the first time I actually paid it any attention. I began to think, I could easily do something here. In that moment, it was also revealed to myself what a disconnect I had with the neighborhood in which I lived for the last year and a half. So I went inside and asked if I could volunteer in the afterschool program because I remembered going to one as a child and I often stopped and talked with many of the kids in the neighborhood on my walks to and from campus, and the very next day I was helping with homework. Working in the afterschool program redirected my focus to education and I realized I wanted to be a teacher. There was only one issue, how could I be a teacher with no real experience and no degree in education? Ta da…I found City Year while searching online one day and here I am.
I applied to City Year because I realized that our education system was failing and that to fix any other problem in the world, there needs to be an educated public. In City Year, I am proud to say that I am active part of fixing this large problem. I can tell you about all the tangible benefits you get from being a part of this organization, like the Segal Education Award and the “incredible” uniform, or I can refer you to cityyear.org where they list them all, but the intangibles are really where you find the glory and you don’t discover these benefits until you join. We not only get the opportunity to work with kids and play a part in the education they receive, but we get to transform their lives. We present them with experiences through our afterschool program and our service projects that they may not have otherwise got the opportunity to be apart of if we were not in their schools. We are giving these kids tools of excellence and instilling values in them for them to carry throughout life. We gain knowledge about the education system as well as issues with housing and poverty from a much different perspective besides just reading about it. City Year not only trains you in a spectrum of complex issues and presents you with a vast variety of knowledge in many different areas, but it allows you to become innovators and leaders of service and change. It equips you with the tools you will need to be successful within and beyond the organization.
City Year is a diverse, non-profit organization that while education is our focus, you find yourself dealing with many other social issues that plague our country and you get the opportunity to be an active part of change in all of it. Change starts with the individual and everyday you get to touch the lives of individuals and leave a legacy of change in every persons life, so that they might change someone else’s life as result. Now who wouldn’t want the privilege to say, “I gave a year and I changed the world”. Apply for City Year today.