By Golshan Jalali, AmeriCorps member serving on the Westfield Capital Management team with Mildred Avenue K-8 School
At City Year, we place great value on reflection, using past experiences to guide our present actions. The following story is an account from last year; both the author and the AmeriCorps member mentioned are currently serving a second year as team leaders on the Westfield Capital Management team serving with Mildred Avenue K-8 School.
Step into Mildred Avenue K-8 School, and you will find yourself in a sea of sharp haircuts. Ty Miguel, an AmeriCorps member serving on the Westfield Capital Management team, usually wasn’t one to step outside of the box when it came to his haircuts. But after seeing one of his students sport an eye-catching mohawk, he was immediately intrigued. Miguel felt compelled that, for his next haircut, he needed to step outside his normal style and take a risk. With the freedom to experiment and explore different paths during his year of service and inspiration from one of his students, he decided to also get a mohawk. When Miguel shared this idea with some of his students, many shrugged it off without much belief.
With many of his students receiving their vibrant haircuts in the Mattapan community, where the Mildred Avenue School is located, Miguel desired to get his haircut done in Mattapan where he spent his year of service. While at first apprehensive about getting his haircut and reaching out to the community because he was (then) a newcomer, Miguel quickly found it to be a welcoming and vibrant place. After service one day, Miguel popped his head into a local barbershop to receive his haircut, much to the elation of his students.
When Ty Miguel first began his experience with City Year, he felt a bit reserved and was mainly observant in his role as an AmeriCorps member. By stepping outside of his comfort zone and unexpectedly going through with getting a mohawk, Miguel felt more approachable to his students and found a small but powerful way to connect with the community. Had it not been for his student or his involvement as a City Year AmeriCorps member, Miguel said he would never have considered this haircut otherwise. Reflecting on his experience, Miguel shared that “Your year of service is ultimately what you choose to make of it. The more you invest, the more you feel like you’re going to have a true experience.”
For his next haircut, Miguel is considering shaving his whole head as an attendance initiative for students, letting his students each have their own swipe at his hair.
I just may join him in that.