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City Year Columbia – Young People Making a Difference

Today I had the honor and privilege to facilitate a session on Leadership and Inclusion with City Year Columbia 2013-2014 Corps Members.  Spending time with this diverse, inclusive, and engaging group of young people was awesome, simply awesome.  I hear many people talk about Generation Y and the Millennials, and unfortunately most of the comments are negative or pessimistic.  We hear about them being selfish, lazy, self-centered, impatient, and even spoiled.  Well, I can’t speak about everyone in a particular age group or generation, but I can tell you something about the City Year Columbia 2013-2014 Corps members – you can call them a lot of things, but you can’t call them selfish, lazy, self-centered, impatient or spoiled.

Here’s my strongest piece of evidence.  We asked each Corps Member the following question – What is your greatest hope regarding working with students this upcoming City Year?  Here are their answers:

  1. Give them (students) insight
  2. Having an impact on the students while having then progress.
  3. My greatest hope is that the students remember that no matter what circumstance they ever face, that they can always rise and push on.
  4. That I will be able to make the difference that I have heard other corps members say they have made.
  5. To make a difference in the life of at least one student
  6. Building strong relationships.
  7. Everyone will graduate
  8. I hope that I can see the difference I make in at least one student.
  9. To have an impact on students’ lives and push them towards graduation
  10. Inspiring students to believe in themselves and to take personal responsibility for their academic success and furthermore their lives. I hope to inspire students to understand that anything is possible if they believe they work hard towards their goals.
  11. That I build healthy and lasting relationships with them.
  12. To make a difference in my students lives
  13. My greatest hope regarding working with students during my time at City Year is that I can positively affect a student in the way my past teachers have affected me. I just want to let my students know that I am going to be consistent and there for them to talk to about academics and life.
  14. Seeing a positive change being made.
  15. I hope that I will be able to inspire students to take pride in their education and give them the tools they need to excel.
  16. My greatest hope will be that I make a positive impact on these children lives and help to strive towards decreasing the dropout rate across the world.
  17. I hope that the students I work with really take away something great from the time that we spend together.
  18. Making a difference in their lives
  19. I hope to leave a long lasting impression on at least one student
  20. That they will teach me and transform me and that I will also be able to impact their lives.
  21. That I establish positive and life-changing relationships.
  22. That I will touch one of the kids in the way that some of my teachers did for me. A lasting impression can help in decision making years down the line.
  23. To get students to believe in themselves
  24. To make a positive impact

Wow!!!! Every time I read their responses I smile.  There’s nothing selfish, self-centered, or lazy about these answers.  As a matter of fact, their answers aren’t about them, their answers are about the students they’re committed to serve.  These Corps Members recognize a fundamental principle to effective, ABLE Leadership – “It’s Not About Me”.  As I said earlier, this is awesome.  They’re here to serve a greater common good, a purpose that’s larger than their ego, a cause that’s bigger than their issues, a vision that they all believe in.

So the next time you look at “young people” and think all hope is gone and everyone is caught up in “self”, stop for a moment and think about 24 young people – 24 young people who are committed to make a difference, who strive for excellence, who are stepping outside of their comfort zone, who believe in the greater good, who are demonstrating real leadership, who call themselves City Year Columbia.  Great job.  Proud of all of you.  Be the best leader you’re ABLE to be.

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