At the beginning of my year of service, my Team Leader said that this year was going to be a crucible. A crucible is an instrument used in chemistry that applies intense heat and pressure to literally change the chemical composition of something. In almost prophetic fashion, my team leader was correct – I have changed a lot because I have learned a lot. I’d like to share some of the major lessons I’ve learned that have changed me.

  1. Show me that you care before you try to help me.

Children, and adults, will be skeptical of help if they don’t know where it is coming from. That is why if you really want someone to be receptive of the support you are providing, you should first show you care about them as an individual.

  1. Why so serious?

As crazy and diabolical the villain Joker is in Christopher Nolan’s movie The Dark Knight, he has got a point when he says, “Why so serious?”.  One of City Year’s sayings is to “never forget the human aspect of what we’re doing”. And I think laughter is a quintessential characteristic of being human. It is easy to lose this aspect of ourselves because what we do is hard. If we don’t laugh, then the work we do will become infinitely more challenging.

  1. I’m not superman.

I won’t be able to change the lives of every single student I interact with or turn the school system on its head to become better for our students. But what I do know is that, I could be the one person to spark a change in the lives of a handful of students who go on to change our world for the better.

My time in the crucible is not over. It is going to be tough and it is going to be challenging. However, if the past few months are an indication of what is to come, I know that at the end of this year of service I will have changed – for the better. 


Kirtan Patel
City Year Jacksonville Alumni
Served on the CSX Team at Northwestern Middle School

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