By Rebecca Andriani
My first memory of City Year brings me back to my sister’s 2003 Young Heroes graduation. I couldn’t tell you exactly what she had done to earn the infamous yellow jacket; I just knew that every Saturday morning she was gone, and it was an opportunity to sneak back the clothes I had borrowed from her during the week.
Though my sister’s graduation was my first glimpse into the world of City Year, I have been taught the power of service since my family moved to the United States. I grew up going to a church that provided many opportunities to participate in service trips around the country and the world. In turn, these experiences inspired me to continue serving as I grew up in Columbus. In high school, I followed in my sister’s footsteps and began serving with City Year Young Heroes to provide physical service to my community. As a result, I realized this deep sense of purpose each time I served.
I continued to serve in college and learned that my passion with service intersected with my love for relationship-building with all people. I believe my passion for all people has come from my background as a multicultural and multilingual woman. Because of my identity and my global experiences, I witnessed how service could impact any community.
However, a servant’s heart was not enough and my identity as a first-generation American added extra pressure to start my career right out of college. My parents reminded me often of the great sacrifices they made to establish my life in this country. While I wanted to make my parents proud, there was an inner conflict about where I was going to go next. I knew that my long-term goal is to serve as a witness of a greater love to people in other countries. However, I was not confident in starting my career because I had no vision about what I specifically wanted to do. During this turning point in my life, City Year came up again and again as an option, so I decided to apply.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect for my service year. I came into this experience with a one-year mindset hoping it would be the stepping stone that would lead me to my life’s passion and purpose. Not to mention, I would receive an education award to pay off those loans! Little did I know, this service year gave me more than what I hoped for.
I quickly learned that the City Year service model was meant for me: collaborating with a diverse team, serving an underserved community, and working for a greater human cause, all the while growing as a person. There is no other organization that devotes its work to serving young people the way that City Year does, as stated by one of City Year’s deepest values: "Belief in the Power of Young People". This is the value I resonate with the most as this applies to both the corps members and the future generation we serve.
I believe this was what I was looking for - service and personal growth, both equally valued. In light of all of this, I am planning on returning next year because of how much I have grown. If not for City Year, I would not have known the depth of fulfillment and joy it is to devote myself fully in serving others. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve this year and hope to continue to dig deeper in my purpose and grow into the best version of myself!