Thursday, October 22, 2009

Introducing Alaina!

Alaina S.
Corps Member serving at Malcolm X

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Education: B.A. Dartmouth College

What team are you on and what do you do? I serve on a Whole School Whole Child team at Malcolm X elementary. As the events and outreach point person for my team I work to engage and involve all of our community stakeholders in the service that City Year is doing in Malcolm X and throughout the city. From collaborating to plan events tailored to the specific needs and interests of students, parents, business leaders and teachers, to creating and distributing a monthly newsletter, I strive to make my team and City Year in general a well recognized and respected part of the community in which we serve. The second part of my job is to serve a tutor and mentor to the lovely students of my school. I split my classroom time between a 2nd and 3rd grade class. In both rooms I support the teachers, provide one-on-one and small group academic assistance and help regulate behavior. As a lunch club and afterschool program facilitator I work to build positive relationships with the students as we learn about social issues, leadership skills and teamwork.

Why did you join City Year and why do you serve? I joined City Year because I felt compelled to give back. As I approached graduation this past June I sat down and thought about all of the people who had guided and supported me, helping my dreams to be realized. I was overwhelmed as I realized just how many encouraging words, hours of homework help and incredible opportunities I had been given and just how important they were in my life. I was powerfully reminded of just how blessed I’ve been and that even the smallest gesture or act can make an amazing impact on the life of a young person. I joined City Year to carry on the legacy of all of the people who went above and beyond to make a difference in my life. I serve because I believe in the awesome power of education. I want to inspire the youth I work with to take ownership and pride in themselves and their education. In short, I serve because I believe I can make a difference and that it is my responsibility to do so.

What are you most excited about this year? I’m excited for the relationships I’m going to build with my Malcolm X teammates. They’re an amazing group of people who challenge me, back me up, laugh with me and without whom City Year wouldn’t be half of the incredible program it is. I’m also really looking forward to having the opportunity to form real relationships with the students I serve. As a near-peer mentor and academic coach I hope to form a bond with the kids that allows them to trust me and to let me help them learn and grow as compassionate, intelligent leaders. Lastly, I’m excited for all of the whole-corps service days and Unity Rally’s! I love feeling like I’m a part of something larger than myself, and being surrounded by others who believe in the power of young people giving back.

What are you most nervous about this year? I’m nervous about how lasting my impact on the students will be. Since I won’t be working with them next year, I’m a bit concerned that some of the progress my fellow teammates and I make with our students might be lost. If City Year Washington, DC decides to continue it’s partnership with Malcolm X elementary I would feel better, knowing my students had a new group of corps members who cared about them just as much as I did.

What is something most people don’t know about you and wouldn’t guess? I am a member of the Choctaw Native American tribe and grew up travelling to pow-wows. At various pow-wows such as Crow Fair and Wellpinit, I competed in a style of dance called fancy-dance and also sang and drummed with the Bull Lodge singers.

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