Hello! My name is Jheri Grossman and I proudly serve as the Impact Manager at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. But, I also serve as the Idealist’s Journey staff point for City Year Tulsa, and work in tandem with Deirdra Kelly, senior AmeriCorps Member, Team Leader at Sequoyah Elementary and Idealist’s Journey point for our AmeriCorps Members (ACMs).
I’m here to explain what the Idealist Journey (also known as “IJ”) is and means for us here at City Year. In a nutshell, the Idealist’s Journey is City Year’s leadership development program for our ACMs. However, there is so much more to this nut.
Throughout the year, ACMs are challenged to think deeper about what they are learning and experiencing during their service.
As they open themselves up to new ways of thinking and ideas that will take their work to a new level of impact and excellence, it’s important for them to take time to reflect and create a space to collect their ideas, “ah-ha” moments and plans. Our IJ program gives ACMs that space to enhance their City Year experience by reflecting, writing and thinking throughout their service year.
The Idealist’s Journey helps ACMs connect with their own deeper sense of purpose, and live a life of integrity in which they align their daily actions with their deepest intentions and aspirations.
The IJ program requires a commitment to curiosity, active listening, and deep learning, in which ACMs allow the insights and experiences of others to help inform and expand their understanding of the reality in which they are immersed today.
IJ sessions happen roughly once every two weeks, occur in small groups with other ACMs, and last 60-90 minutes. They are facilitated by “IJ Guides,” who are responsible for creating a powerful, safe space for reflection and for facilitating the conversation. City Year Tulsa staff also participates in this journey in our own IJ group.
IJ sessions provide two types of spaces for reflection: a personal and practice reflection space. The personal reflection space allows ACMs to reflect on personal questions, struggles, and challenges through exercises, and then discuss that inner work as a group. The practice reflection space allows a member of the group to present a personally meaningful question designed to spark discussion that allows for the exchange of wisdom among participants.
The Idealist’s Journey was written with clear intentions: To give each of us regular opportunities in the midst of a challenging and intense year to step away from the demands of delivering service, pause, and practice the skill of staying present and awake to what we are experiencing, what lessons we are learning, and what meaning our service has for each of us personally.