As our final application deadline approaches (April 30!), you may consider applying to be apart of the City Year Dallas Founding Corps, beginning this July. Below, City Year alumnus Huw McDonald describes his experience serving on the founding corps of City Year South Africa in 2005. Huw nowserves as the Regional Recruitment Director at City Year Dallas, helping to recruit those who will serve on Dallas’ founding corps!
I joined City Year in 2005 as a founding corps member at City Year's first international site: Johannesburg, South Africa. That year was, without a doubt, one of the best years of my life,
It didn't take much convincing for me to join City Year. At first, I was a little skeptical having never worked with children (or even volunteered!) before. But after my first meeting with a City Year staff member I was sold. I loved what the organization stood for, and I was intrigued by the prospect of being able to contribute to building it from the ground up.
It's always exciting being a part of something new, and I loved that about City Year South Africa. We were lucky because Presidents Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton were the reason that City Year South Africa started, and it was an honor to be a part of a founding corps initiated by two amazing men.
We were incredibly well received by the community. Having fairly recently come out of apartheid in South Africa, communities loved having teams of diverse corps members around every day working hard to make a difference in the lives of their children.
As with anything that is brand new, there are always some hiccups and challenges along the way. We were working in an environment that City Year had never existed in before, so there were many times when we had to figure things out for ourselves. The challenging times actually ended up being some of the most memorable and rewarding though.
Huw sat down with three AmeriCorps members currently serving on the City Year Dallas start-up corps. He asked them a few questions about their experience, paving the way for next year’s founding corps!
Tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to join City Year.
Oghosa Osayamwen: Growing up as a child, I struggled in school, and that struggle caused me to have very low-self-esteem. I was inspired to join City Year because I want to encourage young people who may feel the same way that I did when I was their age.
Aimee Flato: Timing brought me to City Year, but I applied because I wanted to be a part of the positive impact City Year was making in schools and with students...(Disclaimer: I applied to CY with no education/teaching career goals or plans – but that’s completely okay in City Year.)
Harry Nguyen: I plan on being an educator someday, and that is one of the biggest reasons I decided to join City Year. It provides me with the opportunity to work with students and gain incredible experience in the school setting.
What is your favorite part of living in Dallas so far?
Harry: It is such a big city that there is something for everyone. If you are willing to travel a bit there are always things to do, no matter what you are interested in.
Aimee: My favorite part of living in Dallas has to be the vast opportunities available to me for food, fun, exploring, concerts, shopping, attractions. My favorite experience has to be attending the NCAA National Championship with a fellow corps member after only being in Dallas for one week.
How has the community--both at large and within the school--received you?
Harry: Everyone is really excited to have City Year at the school. The school has welcomed us with open arms and alot of teachers are asking for an AmeriCorps Member in their classroom.
Aimee: After receiving our red jackets, the community started to really ask questions ...The students took about a week, but after only two weeks in the schools,students were asking for us by name to help them.
What advice would you give to folks thinking about serving in the founding corps of City Year Dallas?
Oghosa: Give this job everything you got! No matter what, you will make an impact in the community and school where you serve. It’s a great feeling.
Aimeee: It’s only 11 months – dive into the experience with an open mind and a willingness to participate and you will love it. You have the potential to change a student’s life forever and, sometimes, you won’t even know when it’s happening.
What are our current AmeriCorps members up to? Follow #makebetterhappen to hear how their students are growing and learning today.