by Drew Wilcox, AmeriCorps member serving on the Comcast NBCUniversal team with Jeremiah E. Burke High School

City Year has many phrases, values, and stories that have helped me remain idealistic throughout my year of service. These are two of my favorites.

“Be Like Water”

The phrase “be like water” derives from a City Year founding story Tao Te Ching by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. In this story, change agents are encouraged to embody the the metaphorical traits of Earth’s most supportive substance: Adaptability, simplicity, and presence. Being like water is a particularly useful perspective to adopt when tasks are not going according to plan - a common experience among all who strive to assist the development of children and youth. Over the course of my City Year, I have accepted the validity of this advice and used this frame of thinking while struggling to remain patient during the beautiful process of student growth and change.

“This is Hard, Be Strong”

Creating social change is not easy, and the City Year handbook acknowledges this fact with the phrase above. Setbacks will inevitably occur, and it is possible for even the hardest working change agents to become discouraged when they do. During my toughest days, I have been comforted by the widespread acceptance of this truth. This IS hard. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean that it is impossible, and I know that if I remain dedicated I WILL make better happen.


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