Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Who are you? Why are you doing this? What on earth is City Year?

Hello, fair reader. Welcome to my City Year blog. In this post, I'll introduce myself and explain what it is I'm doing here.

My name is Jake, and I'm a 23-year old skinny white guy from the suburbs of New Jersey. Currently, I live in Washington Heights, near the upper tip of Manhattan Island. I graduated from Connecticut College in 2008 with a history degree. Immediately after graduation, I moved to Anderson, Indiana to work as a field organizer on Barack Obama's campaign. Since the campaign ended, I had drifted, working on and off, until I found what looks like a great organization in City Year.

City Year was started by two friends, Michael Brown and Alan Khazei, in Boston in 1988. The organization has since expanded to several US cities, as well as Johannesburg, South Africa. CY asks young men and women to give a year of their lives to work in troubled schools. Corps members serve as tutors, mentors, extra planners, and generally jacks of all trades. I'd provide more information, but there remains a lot for me to discover over my own year of service. The linked website has a lot more info for the curious.

I applied to City Year New York in April of 2009, and got notice of my acceptance in mid-May. Shortly thereafter, I was notified that I'd be working in Hunts Point, a particularly poor neighborhood in the South Bronx. After spending September of 2009 in training, I'll be working with a team of 10-12 people in the school until mid-June.

Why am I doing this? Well firstly, see the blog title. I'm a hopeless idealist at heart, and I continue to hold out hope of having a job that does some sort of good in this world. Thanks to some bad experiences, I've also discovered that I work best in jobs where I interact regularly with people not my co-workers. I feel like being able to see in person the results of my work will be a large motivating factor for me.

A caveat: due to privacy laws, I'll only be able to speak in very general terms about the kids I'll be working with. I'll try and make things interesting nonetheless.

So there you go. First real post to follow...

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