Written by Kaia Duke, City Year Alumna
At the beginning of their City Year, AmeriCorps Members are sorted into groups of people designated to served at a particular school. This group of people begins to meet, learn names, and identify commonalities. From the first, they have two known goals: one, a long-term goal of serving the students and school at they're placed and, two, a short-term goal of becoming more cohesive and intimate. As they strive for the second goal, the group draws closer. Each individual is more aware of the others' strengths and weaknesses and begins to determine the shape of their piece in the puzzle that is this group. As roles are defined, the group's cigs begin to mesh and operate as one unit. Perhaps at this point the group makes their transition to a team.
According to Merriam-Webster, a team is "a group of people who work together." When this group knows each other so well that the most effective modes of communication are known, active listening is an everyday occurrence, and understanding of everyone's journey is common knowledge, it is capable of producing quality work. When the pieces of the team mesh so finely that it is able to not only work smoothly, but also heal itself and make stronger its weaknesses through strengthening relationships within the team, it is an active demonstration of a team at work. As City Year describes it, teamwork "maximizes impact and engenders respect, empathy, understanding, communication, insight, patience, creativity, and joy."
To watch a group of people drawn together for the purpose of something greater than themselves become a team working with an active understanding of each other is one of City Year's many values. Whether this is within a school team, a site's staff, a site's staff and corps together, or beyond at the national levels, teamwork can be found, allowing, as Margaret Mead once said, "a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens [to] change the world."
Kaia served on the Lamar Advertising Company Team at Melrose Elementary School. Next year, she will serve as a second year AmeriCorps member with City Year Baton Rouge.