Discovering Ubuntu

Erica Pence and Corps at Basic Training Retreat

Erica Pence and Corps at Basic Training Retreat

The unfortunate passing of Nelson Mandela led me on a journey of discovery about this amazing individual’s life. I have always admired Mandela, specifically his insight concerning social issues. City Year tackles the social issue of education. At the beginning of our year of service, we establish “I Serve” statements that summarize why we decided to dedicate a year to national service. My “I serve” statement is about the power of Ubuntu. Ubuntu, a term borrowed from the Zulu tribe of South Africa, means “I am a person through other people; my humanity is tied to yours.”

The theory conveys an indispensable spiritual certainty about the world: We are all connected to each other through invisible webs of interdependence. We share a collective world and a mutual purpose, and the small struggles of the few effect the population as a whole. I believe that the power of interdependence can truly change the world. However, we must get past the basic barriers that hold us back from being one humanity; race, religion, etc. Practicing cultural humility is essential for our own awareness of the world and ethnic education.

As stated in Mandela’s autobiography, he believes that “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Mandela proved this web of interdependence and love when he held a conference on Civil Society in Cape Town in 2001. Mandela extended an invitation to Clinton, who accepted and brought along a delegation from the US, which included representatives from City Year Inc. From this, City Year South Africa was established in 2005. This is a concept I am trying to engrave into my work with students. Most students have preconceived feelings towards certain cultures, which is only holding them back from genuine appreciation of the world around them. If I can open up that barrier of acceptance, there are countless possibilities to what they can achieve.

— Erica Pence, first year corps member


Every Day

PITW #159: This is hard.
Be strong.

Five months into my service, it’s safe to say that City Year is one the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Every day I wake up and go to Linden McKinley STEM Academy (LMSA) and follow my cohort of 9th graders from class to class. Power greeting, attendance check-ins, push-ins, pull-outs, tracking data, every day has the same premise, but every day is a little different. Every day has its own trials and tribulations. Every day has its own silver lining.

I’m sure most of the corps would agree that sometimes there are days when PITW #159 rings especially true. Nearly halfway through our service year, we’ve all seen a lot, learned a bunch, and felt the crushing pressure of trying to help our students however we can.

I’m writing today to talk about the second part of this PITW, “be strong”. Seems easier said than done sometimes. One of the things that helps me stay strong is thinking back to why I decided to join City Year in the first place. My personal motivations came from my desire to work in a school with students and I wanted to do something to help my adopted Columbus community.

When I think about my service from that perspective, I can see that I’ve met and exceeded these initial goals by a landslide. Every day I wake up and go to a school. Every day I help my students. I’ve met so many wonderful people from the LMSA and greater Linden community. It warms my heart to think that I have the privilege of making a difference here. Though I may never see the cathedral that we’re building, I am so glad both to be a part of building it and to get to know the other people working on it.

Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective to realize that, though there’s much to get done and the greater mission is so critically important, just being part of the process is amazing. It’s easier to be strong when you know it’s all worth it in the end.

— Darcy McCarthy, First year Corps Member of the ATT Team at Linden-McKinley STEM Academy

What do Red Jackets do?

 COTA tweets


COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) is a huge supporter of us here at City Year Columbus. They donate all of our bus passes every year so we’re able to zip around the city. Whether we’re going to or from service, hanging out as a corps, or relaxing on our own, it’s so much easier when we ride COTA. Check out these tweets from our corps and see for yourself!

Thanks, COTA, for supporting us and for all that you do!

–Hope Hill, 2nd Year Corps Member