A week ago, our bus returned to Columbus after spending a week with our 48 Corps Members in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was an inspiring, challenging, and bitter week. It allowed me to be enlightened by interacting with other sites around the network while becoming severely discouraged by the realization of how un-idealistic things are in Columbus. Through this post and the following few, I hope to detail some of my experiences and relay some of my thoughts about City Year and the National Service Movement to others who may happen upon this blog. I have been trying to write this series of posts for a week with no luck, but now I seem to have enough time.
The "Annual Conference of Idealism" began with a rousing kick-off in front of the Clinton Library and Center in Little Rock. The dean from the Clinton School, the mayor, and others attended lauding City Year for its amazing work and excellent impact on the community. This beginning celebration preceded some PT with 1000+ Corps Members. It was amazing seeing all of the network doing jumping jacks at once and realizing once again that we were not alone in this mission of national service.
The remainder of this day, I spent at my service site prepping it for the last day's project. My project was to lay two inches of soil and sod in front of a children's center near Central High School. There is not much prep to do for that, so we helped the other individuals at our site accomplish their tasks of drawing a mural and taping areas that needed to be painted. It seemed not too unlike my Care Force project from earlier in the year all over again.
The day closed with the traditional cyzygy awards ceremony. While I didn't win the two awards I applied for--there seems to be a general handicap against smaller sites--we did win Best Recruitment Innovation and Best Young Heroes. As they described each winning award submission, it was impressive to hear what other Corps Members were able to accomplish with the support of their staff members. A fellow Senior Corps Member and myself noted how many of the projects that other site carried out with excellence would be deemed "impossible" to accomplish by City Year Columbus.