Give a Year, Change the World


Written by Kristine Adams |

“We’d like to congratulate you on being accepted to be a City Year Los Angeles member for the class of 2012 to 2013.” When I heard the voice on the other line saying all my interviews and hard work paid off, my dream was finally coming through. After a few happy tears, jumping up and down and screaming off the top of my lungs, it hit me, in 8 months, I would be helping to change the world. City Year is a nonprofit organization which joins people for a whole year from all backgrounds to help students get on the right track to graduation. There is currently a drop-out crisis in this country. About one million students will drop out of school every year. City Year was founded by Michael Brown and Alan Khazei , who in 1988 were roommates at Harvard Law School .  Ever since City Year and nearly 15,100 corps members have helped serve 1,255,000 students and completed more than 26 million hours of service. Located in 23 cities, from Boston all the way to Los Angeles and even London and South Africa, City Year and its corps members are changing education for the better.  Source

My junior year was all about preparing for college. But, when I thought about going to college, something didn’t feel right.  When someone mentioned City Year to me, I fell madly in love. I was so motivated to become a part of City Year. While applying I had my choice of 23 cities, and I choose to serve my year in Los Angeles, California. Many people have asked me why I chose to live far away, and my response always is that I wanted to have an adventure while I am still young. There is one speed bump though. When it comes to being a part of City Year, housing is not provided. It is up to me to be responsible enough to find my own roommates and somewhere to live for the year. Luckily, with the help of City Year, I have found my three roommates and a place to live. I do get paid for my service in LA, but only a minimal amount, about $1,100 a month. I also have to rely on food stamps to help me get by. Of course, money is a concern, but being a part of something so great is well worth being broke for a year.  Being a corps member is about putting my own problems aside to focus and give 100% into mentoring and tutoring these students.

In about 6 weeks, I am leaving everything I know; my whole family, all my true friends and my hometown where I am comfortable. Yes, I will admit I’m nervous and scared but the feeling of excitement is overwhelming.  I know the girl that leaves this small town on July 14th won’t be the same girl that comes back that following June. While I am changing these students’ lives, they will change mine as well. Los Angeles and the community as a whole are a completely different culture than our isolated town. I am going to see new things around every corner and learn a whole new way of living. The fear of failing these students is what keeps me up at night; but I know that if I teach with my full heart, then failure isn’t an option. I am going to miss everything and everyone I leave behind, but I am at the point in my life where I need to spread my wings and fly.