Written by Suzie Nahach, AmeriCorps member proudly serving at Baton Rouge Bridge Academy.
When I was thinking through City Year’s Founding Stories and Putting Ideaslism to Work (PITW) collection in anticipation of writing this, I found it difficult to pick one favorite to write about. So many of the stories and passed wisdom connected with my City Year experience in ways as widely varied as the time spent with City Year itself. Consequently, when connecting with a story, I gravitated towards one that combined several possible influences with several potential endgames.
The founding story that resonates with me the most is The Bridge Builder. In this story, an old man crosses the tide and then builds a bridge to span it, even though he will not need to pass again. When a fellow traveller questions his decision to build the bridge, he states that somebody else will need to pass the same path and that the bridge is for them.
More than about simply physical bridges, this metaphorical bridge could mean passing on resources, contacts, and general wisdom. Especially serving at Baton Rouge Bridge Academy, the idea of being a bridge builder is quite prevalent. At community circle every Friday, the whole school discusses how they are building a bridge to college. So, in that way, fortifying bridges is often in the forefront of my mind.
Even before college, each student’s personal bridge is encouraged and developed every year, piece by piece. Every time I work individually with a student or watch a new concept connect, that’s another connecter in the bridge. However, like with many of the founding stories, such as The Cathedral, there is no fixed timeline to the completion of the bridge, and it’s not a process that I personally will see to completion. I just need to believe that the bridge will continue being built on the foundation that I can help make.
I believe that there is transferable value in knowledge, connections, and resources. Every time I watch a student grow a little bit in their educational journey, I know that they are slowly crossing their bridge, and that it’s still being built. I value bridge builders and I hope that I am being one myself. That is why The Bridge Builder is my favorite founding story.