Instant gratification is a hallmark of our society. Between Twitter, Facebook, and a 24 hour news cycle, we now receive information instantly, regardless of where the event happens. Instantaneous results are something that everyone has come to expect. In many ways, City Year is the antithesis of this. Our work features long hours, and is often difficult. We might make a break through with a student or they might not want to work with us. More often than not, we will never see the true impact of our work. Instead, the real return on our time invested will be in five years or even longer. The end result might be in a way that we never even imagined.
When I first joined City Year, I expected that I would teach my students math. I would help them get back on grade level. I never expected to learn half as much as I did, nor did I expect this year to change me as it has. While I was correct, a large part of my job is to remediate my students on skills that they are lacking, I learn just as much from them because I cannot just make them do the work. Instead, I have to motivate them, teach them, and then watch them try on their own. Sometimes they succeed on the first try, but often times they fail. But we each, myself and my students, have learned that failure isn’t a bad thing because let’s face it, when you’ve worked for weeks on understanding one topic, it means a lot more than if you mastered it on the first day. Rather it reminds us of how sweet the ultimate success will be.
Written by Victoria Riley, proud AmeriCorps member serving on the Sea Best team at William Raines High School