My name is Brenden Bish and I am a City Year New Hampshire corps member. I’m 24 years old and I was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT. I proudly serve at Beech Street Elementary School with our courageous and humble Team Leader Blake Benton (Olathe, Kansas). My enthusiastic teammates who I have the privilege to serve alongside with are Matthew Bratsch (Matawan, NJ), Ivy Casteel (Orange, TX), Tiah Jacobs (Long Island, NY), Maggan Bolduc (Nashua, NH), Dana Hill (San Diego, CA), Yessica Garcia (Rochelle, IL), Rowan Reeves (Peterborough, NH), Sarah Caska (Carmel, NY), and the hometown hero Binh Tran (Manchester, NH). We have a diverse group that has a very balanced and dynamic approach to getting things done and making sure our students genuinely know we are here to support and guide them to the best of our abilities. My teammates have inspired me in so many different ways and have helped me grow just as much as the bond we are building between us all. I have learned in my life that one of the biggest things that can bring people together is working through challenges and obstacles. One of these memorable moments that I will forever hold near and dear to my heart is Beech Street's Literacy Night.
When you arrive at the peak of a Mountain, a fulfilling gesture that climbers often do is look out in the distance to enjoy the rewarding view that they have worked so diligently at reaching and so rightfully deserve. This was indeed the inspiring feeling and view I felt when I roamed between stations, families, team members and students during our Literacy Night. The diverse stations held at the event allowed students to complete an entire worksheet packet with crossword puzzles, word searches, and structured sentences around giving thanks; an obstacle course where students ran and jumped for joy for what they were thankful for; a station where they could create a pumpkin from strips of paper that contained a single sentence of something they are thankful for; all the way to a station where students could learn about the different festivals and celebrations from other parts of the world. In the midst of it all, I witnessed individuals on my team and other corps members go above and beyond to assist students at their stations with challenges and activities that engaged their imaginations. I connected this experience to arriving at the mountain's peak looking out at the beauty before me after working diligently to get there.
As much as looking out in the distance is important to enjoy the meaningful moment of triumph, it is also equally important for one to look down at the starting point of the journey and the path chosen to get to there. This moment quickly came as the night began to come to a close and I reflected back on how certain stations, designs, activities, and decorations came to be. I thought of the moment my Co-Literacy Coordinator and myself settled on the theme of Thanksgiving. Our thoughts quickly shifted to the mountain of work we would now have to climb not only as individuals, but also as a whole unit with our team members looking to us as leaders. When working with our diverse team, different ideas and suggestions arose and were tossed around in our meetings. These great ideas and dynamic thinking often left us feeling like everyone had different ideas about the direction we should take as a team. Thankfully enough, our grounded team leader never let us linger in one area of brainstorming too long. He guided us in narrowing our options with strategically solid choices that drew us closer to our destination. Even with these obstacles, it was during this climb that I was able to realize that I could not have made it past these adversities completely on my own. It was moments like these during our journey that served as mini reminders to not take my teammates for granted.
Watching my teammates and other corps members who attended our Literacy Night, ready to serve and lend a helping hand anywhere needed, reminded me of our mission and why we chose to serve in the first place. Our mission for this night was to momentarily captivate the students' imaginations and then guide them in a growing academic way. By doing so, all we had left to do was to get out of their way and witness their own creativity carry them forward. Seeing over a hundred smiling students racing from station to station excited to participate, eager to learn, and willing to share what they were thankful for was very humbling. This was an immeasurable success that provided me with an indescribable feeling. It helped me put in perspective the entire journey of this metaphorical mountain. It allowed me to see that it is about more than just reaching the peak. Reaching the peak is not less or more important than the feedback you can gain on the way down the mountain. This journey was one that I can proudly say helped me grow closer to my teammates and also grow as a leader and individual. It is reflecting on this journey in its entirety that helped me arrive at a compelling realization that one must cherish these moments of trials and triumphs. By doing so, it gives you an appreciation for the chances you have to brighten a child's life and helps you remain thankful for the opportunity to serve a cause greater than yourself.