Written by Lucy Blair, AmeriCorps Member serving at Celerity Dalton

“Hey, Mom!”

This greeting isn’t for me. I continue walking down the hall.

“Oh shoot! I mean Ms. Lucy!”

Now I know it’s one of my students. I turn to see my fifth grader running up to me to tell me about his day. It’s a convoluted story involving his missing homework (which we had spent forty-five minutes doing yesterday) and his brother’s dog. As I’m listening, I think about how I’m only eight years older than this kid. To me, it’s ridiculous that children look up to me. Very recently, I was their age and now I’m in charge of their lives for hours every day.

When I entered City Year right out of high school, I was so used to being treated like a child that being thrown into a role of authority had me emotionally reeling. Now, after nine months in the program, I look at my team and see people years older, college graduates and future teachers, and even though we’re doing the same job, I still struggle equating myself with them. I see everyone on my team making an impact on children’s lives. Because I work ten-hour days, write lesson plans, and keep my cool during dozens of student’s temper tantrums, I’m proud of the woman I’ve become. With only weeks left in my year of service, I look back to the person I was, directionless and unprepared for college, and I almost don’t recognize myself. During this year, I’ve had the privilege to impact lives and to have direction and responsibilities. I have learned lessons that only City Year could have taught me.

As a freshman in high school, I read about Malala Yousafzai. At the age of fifteen, she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out regarding her right for an education in Pakistan. I used to think I was too young to make any impact on the world. I thought I didn’t have enough education or experience. I didn’t think I was good enough at doing anything to teach someone something. In this past year, however, I have learned that regardless of background, age, or race, a person can contribute to something larger than herself. That’s what it means to serve.

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