By Danielle Innocent, AmeriCorps member serving on the Wellington Management team with McKay K-8 School  

One thing I’ve learned about City Year in my several months of service: they’re quite fond of a big reveal. And no reveal has been bigger, or more important, than when we found out our service teams, the group of people with whom we would be serving in school, and with whom we would spend most of our lives the upcoming year.

Sitting on the floor of Excel High School in South Boston at the end of my very first week of service, I don’t think I could have been more nervous. I was surrounded, packed in tight, by my "founding team," the group of people I had spent my first week with, and had developed a surprisingly close bond with in just five short days. And now, City Year was telling me that I was going to be leaving these people for a brand new group, and would have to make an even tighter bond with these new people. So yes, I was nervous.

With all of us AmeriCorps members anxiously filling the floor of the gym, our founding team leaders stood up, holding a rolled-up scroll on which all of our names were listed, along with the name of the school we would be spending our service year at. On the very dramatic count of threecomplete with a drumroll—the scrolls were unfurled, and my eyes racked the list, looking for my name. And there it was: “Danielle Innocent, McKay K-8.” However, another name caught my attention almost immediately after: “Emily Mejia, McKay K-8.” My jaw hit the floor as I locked eyes with a fellow Never Doubt founding teammate across the circle. Her only response, with a huge grin spread across her face, was: “Are you kidding?!” I couldn’t help but laugh because Emily and I don’t just share a founding team, or even a service team; we share a house, as well.

Living together and serving together, it was clear that Emily and I would be spending a LOT of quality time with one another. It’s a really good thing we like each other! We travel together to school and back most days, which makes the hour and 15-minute commute much more bearable. It’s nice to be able to come home and talk about the day we had, with a person who understands the context and school climate in which we operate every day. The other thing that makes our relationship work, though, is the fact that we know when to stop talking about work and talk about other things. Although it’s a very small step, it is one way we attempt to maintain a work-life balance when we both live and work together.

Stay tuned for part two, where Danielle shares her thoughts on the best ways to maintain that work-life balance during the service year. 

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