Coming to City Year out of high school was full of uncertainty. I was excited to serve and joined City Year because I wanted to spend a year giving back. I had decided not to go follow the college path that all of my high-school friends were on because I struggled in school. Not with the work load, but with my personal investment in my education, why I was there and what I hoped to gain from school.
While I was extremely excited to start, I was unsure about the work I would be doing since I had never worked with children before. I was unsure of my roommates because I had never lived with anyone other than my family. I was unsure of the new city I was going to be living in since I was moving across the country.
I was also unsure of how the people I was going to work with would see me; I knew they would mostly be college grads and I was worried that they might see me as a “lowly” high-school student.
Almost immediately, I was able to learn that all my uncertainly was almost completely unfounded.
I was trained and prepared to go into a school where I confidently led a classroom. My roommates turned about to be some of my best friends and I learned how much three people can laugh over the silliest, most mundane incidents. I realized that the city I was in had so much to offer in new cuisines, new cultures and new friends.
Mostly importantly, I learned that the value of my effort, the commitment I had and a strong desire to grow mattered more than my level of education. I learned that you can work with anyone, of any age as long as you are honest, respectful and dedicated.
City Year has given me the experience to find out why service is so important to me. I can be a part of something that is larger than myself and that service is a responsibility. We all have to find some way to serve, in whatever capacity we are capable of.
I learned of the value of education. For the students we worked with, but also for myself, and how I needed to continue my education passionately and dedicate myself to my own growth as well as others.
My experience with City Year has given me a new look for the potential I have and what I am capable of. Through serving with City Year and with the input of my peers, I know that I have the drive and motivation to pursue my dreams and become an officer in the Marines. I have gained a basis for the leadership I will need and an outlook on service and commitment to a team that I know will serve me well throughout my lifetime.
Dan Blahnik, Civic Engagment Project Leader CYSJ