It’s June, and we have come a long way since registration back in August and opening day. It seems like just yesterday we were training on how best to connect with our kids, and now, we’re being trained on how best to close out these relationships and what legacies we might leave behind at our schools—how best to bring our City Year experiences to an impactful and meaningful end, and what lessons we ought to take away from these experiences.
Going hand in hand with our year’s end, at Starry Starry Night—City Year San Jose’s lauded benefit Gala—I’m proud to say that this year, one of my personal legacies will was on physical display at the benefit (but the credit is not all mine, and that is one of the greatest joys inherent!).
Earlier in the year, I led an art club at the middle school where I serve (shout out to my Lee Mathson Jaguars). In the club, I taught our students all about art—from technique to art history, pencils to paint and poetry—my art club students got lots of exposure to the world of art, and the ins and outs of artistry. We drew, collaged, painted, and penned, and in the end, all of the students left the club not only with a greater appreciation for art, but with a deep-felt sense of pride from having created many of their own works, often showing improvement at every turn.
When I designed the club, I never could have predicted its popularity, nor the wild amount of success that the club would achieve, and when I designed the final project—a giant collaborative water-color take on Van Gough’s Starry Night, City Year’s Starry Starry Night Gala was hardly a whisper in the back of my mind; and yet, when all was said and done, it seemed all too appropriate that Mathson’s Art Club’s collaborative final project would end up on the wall at Starry Starry Night for all to see.
Indeed, the 27-piece collaborative painting, to me, serves as a symbol for what City Year stands for: The product of collaboration between Corps Members and students alike. The sum is definitely greater than each of its parts—it is only by working together and juxtaposing our individual styles and strengths that we are able to achieve such profound results and reach such great heights as the stars in Van Gough’s painting.
You need only look at the piece once to see literally illustrated, right before your eyes, how the talents of many can combine into something so much greater than any of the individuals alone. It is in this analogy, that we see another of City Year’s core mantras brought to life right in front of our faces. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes all of our individual skills, talents, and personalities to build a Corps as solid and as beautiful as ours is; as beautiful as a work of art, and as beautiful as a starry night. On this Starry Starry Night, through their work, even my students get to shine, and for that, so will my smile, because I am proud.
-Richard Goren, Corps Member, Applied Materials Team at Lee Mathson Middle School