On Thursday, 265 Boston corps members will complete their year of service. I think all our corps members can agree that it has been a challenging, yet extremely rewarding, year. Abigail Chang, corps member serving on the Westfield Capital Management team reflects on the five things she’s going to miss most.
1. My Team
My team inspires me. They are my friends. They make me laugh. They are my mentors and my role models. They are the puzzle pieces with which I connect. We are comfortable standing in happy silence around the snack cupboard eating leftover junk food out of our hands for breakfast. And the best part is my teammates are not afraid to be silly or have fun. For example, we were so obsessed with the idea of a team Hunger Games (I am a favorite to win), we made it the theme of our state testing pep rally to help excite and prepare our students.
2. Service Days
On Comcast Cares Day, I led a team of students who were English language learners from Jeremiah E. Burke High School in a service project. They were working so hard. I knew if we made a final push we could complete the project within the remaining hour of the event. I asked the students, how to say “one hour” in Creole? They lit up as they taught me how to say “en heure” in their native language, and returned to painting with an extra smile on their faces. By the end of the hour, the whole room was double-coated and complete.
3. Being Surrounded by Passionate, Social Justice-Minded People
My fellow corps members have been my social justice teachers. I came to City Year with very little social justice knowledge except the occasional gut feeling that there was something wrong with the imbalances I saw in my own life. From my fellow corps members, I learned how to be sensitive to privilege and injustice. From them, I have learned to embrace the power I have to change the world.
4. Service to a Cause Greater than Self
Sometime mid-January, the exhaustion and the daily challenges were wearing on me. My energy was deflating and I did not know how to reignite my idealism. This was when it was most important for me to be surrounded by passionate, social-justice minded people. I thought about my teammates and what drives them. I realized that purpose, a purpose I believe in, is my greatest fuel. Service to a cause greater than self is the ultimate fuel, and it keeps me fighting through exhaustion and difficulty.
5. My Students
The 8th grade students I serve are the sweetest, loveliest kids I have ever met. They brighten my days—like the time I had to remind a student that they are called “Roman numerals” not “Roman noodles.” The students make me so proud. I was able to watch them grow and to mature into the great young leaders. They are—and continue to be—my joy and inspiration.