Year of service has brought questions and confirmations

By Abby Anfinson on March 04, 2014
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This year I’m taking a gap year with an Americorps program called City Year. I work in a middle school in the Bronx to help narrow the achievement gap and put at-risk students on the road to graduation. I chose to take a year of service with City Year because I hope to work in the education field after I earn my degree.

This year has been a journey and a bit of a shocking experience. Many days are a battle, and I struggle to get my students to work and listen to instruction. I’ve learned that it takes a special kind of person to control a room of 12-year-olds and get them to work on fractions. I have had some solid moments working with students, but more times than not I feel defeated. I hear all the time that working with students is one of the hardest jobs, and I couldn’t agree more. Thankfully, I adjusted quickly to living away from home.

Career decisions

I have been told not to give up on my dream of becoming a teacher because of my current circumstances. I know that’s good advice when considering that I work with students from the poorest congressional district in America, the school is failing according to Department of Education standards, and I’m only 18. (Most corps members are college grads).

I definitely have a lot of obstacles to face. Making a difference in the lives of students certainly isn’t easy. I have had to develop so much patience, flexibility, and humility this year. I know that when I graduate from City Year in June I will come away with a strong character and lots of resilience because of all the challenges I have faced.

I still see myself pursuing a career as a teacher, but I would like to get some experience in business and possibly the design field through internships and classes in college before I officially declare my major. I think that no matter how confident someone is about a career path, committing to a career when I am 18 doesn’t make much sense because I have not experienced other fields that might be interesting to me.

Loving city life and looking forward to learning

One thing I have learned about myself is that I love (big) city living. It has been so fun living in New York City. I have mastered the subway and the streets. I have discovered so many fun shops, museums and parks to explore on the weekends. I can definitely see myself living in the city for years to come! I have made so many friends here and I have joined a really supportive and healthy church. I thrive in diverse and busy circumstances. New York has been a perfect place for me!

Taking a year of service has rekindled my desire to learn and invest in my own education. I have spent so much time and energy on other students, and that has made me appreciate education even more. I am glad I have taken a break from the daily grind and routines of school, but I will be ready to start learning in college come fall.

About the Author

Abby Anfinson

Abby Anfinson

City Year program, New York, N.Y.
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minneapolis

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