By: Ryan Ogi
It may seem odd to hear someone say they are “grateful to serve.” Service – it seems – is often seen as a “means to an end,” where individuals volunteer either to relieve some form of guilt or to make themselves look better on a resume. To me, service isn’t a means to an end. Rather, service is a privilege that allows me to pass on the knowledge and experiences I have to others; a privilege to give back to the community I came from. When I look at my service with City Year thus far, there are so many experiences already that I am grateful for.
One such experience was with an 8th grade student we’ll call “E.” For several of the Corps Members at Trevista, E has been a student we have been trying to get on track, trying to get his grades up and making sure he shows up to school. Throughout the past few months, E has turned his game around. Though he started the year by showing up to school tardy, ditching class, and (especially) forgetting his uniform, he has greatly improved. Every day this past month, he has worn his uniform to school, and this past week, E was at school on time FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK! E’s motivation has been simple – he has a newborn sister and a desire to attend college in California.
E revealed to me his desire to attend college just this past week at the end of an extended learning opportunity. E was particularly concerned with how he was going to reach his college goal as we talked about the future and the value of a college education. We spoke for over 15 minutes about the ways he could work towards achieving his goal of attending college, and after our conversation, his eyes brightened up like I had never seen before. It seemed that the confidence and drive within E had sparked anew.
Such experiences, like this one with E, are why I am grateful to serve with City Year. It’s not just the act of helping students that I am grateful for – it is the spark that I see in students when they understand a concept, when they see that the path to their future is bright and that the other Corps Members and I are there to help them make that future a reality. I am grateful to serve students like E because they are the future. I am grateful to be a part of shaping the future. Only by each serving in our own way can we collectively change the world. . That is why I am grateful to serve.