As the remainder of 2014 reduces to only a matter of days, it’s hard not to reflect on all that’s happened this year in both my own life and the world. So, here is a little month-by-month recapitulation of 2014*.
January: Along with the new year, I celebrated my 22nd birthday! Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon (Prime Minister of Israel from 2001-2006) passed away.
February: I injured my IT band while training for an ultramarathon, putting me out of running for a few months. Meanwhile, thousands of athletes from all over the world traveled to Sochi, Russia, to compete in the Winter Olympics.
March: I went on a fantastic road trip with my girlfriend to visit her best friend. Meanwhile, Crimea declared independence from Ukraine, an act declared illegal by the United Nations.
April: I found my calling to be a sociology professor. Meanwhile, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram kidnapped 280 school girls in Nigeria.
May: I finished my senior thesis in sociology on which I researched academic alienation. Meanwhile, some kind of political alienation in Egypt was apparent based on low voter turnout, resulting in an added third day of voting.
June: I was honored to speak at my own graduation from the University of Denver, where I snagged a killer selfie. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban launched attacks at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, resulting in twenty-nine deaths.
July: On a trip to Ireland, I made it out to the Cliffs of Moher and had one of the most enlightening moments of my life. Meanwhile, Germany got their own kind of enlightenment by winning the World Cup in soccer.
August: Basic Training Academy for City Year started, and I knew from the first day that I was a part of something special. Meanwhile, American Journalist James Foley was killed by ISIS in response to U.S. airstrikes.
September: Service hit full swing with our first whole month of school and I learned the true meaning and importance of flexibility. Meanwhile, Scotland voted to remain apart of the United Kingdom.
October: We started literacy interventions (the crux of the academic part of service) with students. Meanwhile, a Canadian soldier was shot and killed by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as he guarded the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada.
November: Sadly, a student with whom I developed a close relationship had to move schools. Meanwhile, The U.S. and China reached a landmark agreement on climate change and reducing emissions.
The major personal and world events of December are still to unfold, but I know that there will be both good and bad. That’s how it’s supposed to be, because there can’t be one without the other. When my service at College View Elementary began, I would get home every night completely exhausted. I took this to mean that as a whole, it was not a good day. I’ve come to realize, however, that although we’ve been taught to think of happiness and sadness as mutually exclusive, they really exist as two sides of the same coin, just as the sun shines even on rainy days.
Serving for City Year is an emotionally loaded gig. Each day brings everything from hysterical laughter to utter frustration, but it’s that signature, fiery idealism of City Year that pushes me to choose a positive perspective, while maintaining an understanding that multiple exist. I ask that you forgive my excessive use of “meanwhile” in this reflection, for it served the juxtapositional purpose of showing just how small and large the world can be, depending on the chosen perspective. As I look back on this closing year, I understand that it was both confining and inspiring, scary and comforting, painful and prosperous. Most importantly, I know that everything life delivers through the days, months, and years gives us the chance to learn about ourselves and grow to our fullest potential.
Yours in service,
Mike Schutte, City Year Denver
*All current events found on infoplease.com