Dear City Year Columbus 2013-14,
You have spent this school year putting students first- tutoring, mentoring, caring for them. When your schedule piled up to overwhelming, when tragedy bulldozed your hopes, you took time to take care of you. And through all that, you’ve been collaborating, relying on each each other, being real with your teammates and showing grace, building trust. I’m encouraged by the community we’ve created this year, and I want to thank you for all the ways you’ve cared for me.
Though there are many who deserve personal recognition, I want to take a moment to focus out on the culture we’ve built among ourselves. The relationships we have with our teams and as a corps didn’t simply crop up out of nowhere like weeds and wildflowers. While it could be said that our support system is organic, I want to recognize how well its been cultivated. While I value the natural, effortless friendships that have blossomed, I have a deep gratitude for the work that has gone into sustaining a diverse ecosystem of personalities and leadership styles. When I speak from my experience this year, I do so knowing that I only have a small piece of the whole picture, and that my piece is connected to many others.
This year has not been easy. I’m not alone when I say that there were days I wanted to give up on my students. I’m not the only corps member who’s felt like a failure, powerless to bring about any meaningful change. My team is not unique in having lost a teammate. My student was not the first to be victimized. I have experienced frustration, anger, apathy, disappointment disrespect, weariness, and grief, but I was never required to walk through these experiences alone.
After I had a tough week, members of my IJ group reached out to me just to check in. When I had transportation issues, corps members from every team ensured that I could get wherever I needed to be for service. In every challenging situation, I had teammates who were willing to talk things through and find solutions. When I asked for feedback, I received genuine feedback. Thank you for your professionalism, your honesty, and your comradery. It takes intentionally and humility to build a culture with these attributes, and I am grateful for the effort you’ve invested to make City Year a place where I have been able to grow so much.
— Ben Jenkins, First Year Corps Member at Mifflin Middle School