"When I look into the eyes of the Latino students I serve, I see centuries of thriving cultures, I hear the joyful strum of the guitar, I smell the sweet scent of spices in the air, and I observe strength carrying stone atop stone constructing the temples of their life. I look upon a spectrum of copper skin and see the resilience required for the continuation of our uniqueness and stand awe-struck. Before there is the student, there is a person that feels, laughs, cries, thinks, eats, and expresses the inner sensibilities of a young mind finding its place in the world.
City Year recognizes this and prepares us to walk with our growing pueblo. I serve my Latino community because before there was White, our piece of the world was filled with Color, whose beauty can only be shared with stories, music, friendship, laughter, connection, and commitment. I believe success is personal, even for a child, and, as such, a person must understand what success means to them before they can want it.
For too long, young Latinos have been denied the freedom to understand their potential for that success and I am here to change that. I serve my Latino community because I am here to give them that opportunity, that necessary space of understanding, patience, and mentorship. When I walk through school halls and when I chat with students, I am a reminder of the strength in their copper skin, a voice they can relate to, and a story of survival. I am not only a mentor, tutor and role model, I am a symbol of hope in a world filled with obstacles.
City Year provides Latino students across the nation mentors like me and we are changing the future of our nation for our people.“
- Santos De La Paz, City Year Los Angeles 2016-2017, Bridge Builder Pueblo serving at Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles
This post was also originally published in the Corporation for National & Community Service blog.