A City Year

A City Year

AS 1

Hi! My name is Amira Soliman and I am a first-year AmeriCorps member serving with City Year Detroit. City Year is an education focused non-profit organization that hires 17-24 year olds as AmeriCorps members to be tutors, mentors, and role models in high-need schools. We are striving to end the dropout crisis in 24 cities across the United States, as well as 2 international sites in England and South Africa.
Since I am originally from New York, my placement in Detroit has been very exciting. Detroit has a lot of potential to become a great comeback city- there are a lot of influential organizations and people in the city creating change. In addition, Detroit is implementing new systems to level the educational system and support struggling students, and I am excited that City Year is a part of the change.

As a Corps member, I travel with my team each day to the high school I serve at, Central Collegiate Academy, and collaborate with our math teachers to support student success.  We are there to provide individualized attention to the students who need it the most.  While bringing my students up to grade level is important, I think the most exciting part of my service has been giving the students opportunities outside of the classroom. These activities, such as the after-school programming and school events that we provide for our students, support them holisticallyin addition to educationally.

This past week, my team put on our first large event, the 1stannual College and Career Night at Central. We reached out to nearly 50 college and career representatives to come to the event and represent their institutions to our students. After several months of planning, the night came and we had 15 students volunteer to stay after school to help us set up. It was very exciting to see some of the students volunteer to escort the admissions representatives to their table.

We had an amazing turn out; students and their families came to our event, networked with college and career representatives, and most importantly they learned about the standards they will be held to throughout the rest of their high school career in order to be admitted into a college. Luckily, we received many donations to support our event and were able to raffle off prizes for students as a motivation for them to engage with all of the representatives who were present. The school administration is excited to continue College and Career Night in the future with the foundations our City Year team built for this year.

Another exciting project I’ve been a part of was not one of my own host school’s, but rather a national event. Each year on Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day, AmeriCorps programs across the country plan large service projects and invite community members to become involved in revitalizing their local areas. This year, City Year Detroit partnered with Detroit Public Schools to plan service projects at four schools and also provided support for several local non-profits.

My service site was Osborn High School, a school known to be a staple of Detroit’s east side neighborhood. Osborn is an educational complex that has been highly involved in education reform in recent years and now includes academies within the school to meet their student’s diverse interests. This includes a college prep academy and an academy for design and alternative energy. We had projects across the Osborn complex, including painting inspirational quotes in the restrooms, redecorating the college prep office suite, and remodeling a room into a student lounge similar to a college student union.

A great thing about Osborne High School is that the engagement level among students is very high. During our planning days, we had students ask about volunteering and many came out on MLK Day to support the projects at their school. I was a project coordinator for the bathroom painting projects and had a City Year alum and three Osborn students volunteering alongside me. Throughout all of the day’s service projects, we had many other student volunteers, City Year alumni, and corporate volunteers who participated in the MLK Day service.

In addition to our service, we held a rally at Osborn on MLK Day to engage staff and community stakeholders and to prepare them for a day of powerful service. After several speeches, I took the stage as a member of the City Year Step Team and performed a routine that excited the crowd. I never stepped before City Year but have greatly enjoyed it as part of the City Year culture. City Year encourages us to “get squishy” by taking ourselves out of our comfort zones and step has been a great way for me to do that.
MLK Day was a pivotal mark for City Year members as it is the half-way point of our service. Though this means we still have a while to go, I’m already glad to have taken so many opportunities this year to get squishy. That’s what a year of service should be and I’m excited to experience other ways to get squishy in the year ahead.

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