Written by Lydia DuBois, AmeriCorps Member proudly serving on the Capital Area United Way Team at Capitol Middle School.

The idea of Thanksgiving, a holiday centered around giving thanks and spending time with family, has caused me to question: why do we focus on these values now, instead of year-round? 

I found that many City Year values coincide with those of Thanksgiving, so I made a list of traditional Thanksgiving foods and connected each one, based on its visible or functional characteristics, to a specific value that I believe is part of each City Year Corps Member's driving force. When we examine City Year's values, we see that thankfulness and mindfulness are integrated into our daily routines more than we initially expected.

Turkey: This lies at the center of your table. People do not take it lightly; and although people eat it differently, it is important to everyone.This reminds me of Ubuntu, the City Year value that states that we are people through other people, that our humanity is interconnected. At the center of City Year lies our mutual mission to serve, and to experience changes in education firsthand. 

Cranberry sauce: A sweet addition. This reminds me of a City Year tradition called "Joys, Ripples, and Appreciations." Each day we share with our teams our Joys, things that went well that day; Ripples, things we are excited to see happen; or Appreciations, which can be directed to one person or one aspect of our days. Writing your teammates appreciations also gives them a tangible reminder of how their service is recognized. 

Mashed Potatoes: Hearty and always expected to taste a certain way. I’d say trust best connects to this food, because trust - between teammates and ourselves, and between CMs and their students - holds our Corps together and provides a strong backbone.

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows: Creativity. The wheel isn't reinvented but instead embellished by your unique piece of mind. 

Pumpkin Pie: a classic. Its roundness reminds me of the importance of coming full circle. Consistency, whether seen through our lesson plans, our behavior practices, or in our favorite City Year mantra of Showing Up, Corps Members pride ourselves in consistency. 

Stuffing: there is no distinct way to make it, which is why I highlight the final value of individuality. Each day, whether it be at Morning Circle, working in the City Year room, or even seeing my teammates around school, I am reminded that each Corps Member brings new backgrounds and insights to the table. Our differences keep things exciting, and provide cause for collaboration and exciting discussion.

We have a lot to be thankful for. Let's reflect this Thanksgiving: let's be mindful of the people around us, and thankful for all we have. I challenge everyone to continue these practices even as Thanksgiving ends and the second part of our year begins. 

And there you have it: a Thanksgiving menu. Chew on that for a while, and don’t be afraid to get full.

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