Monday, November 9, 2009

Meet Kela!

Kela H.
Corps Member serving on H.O.P.E

Hometown: Fort Washington, MD

Education: B.A. in Sociology and Violin Music Performance from Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC

What team are you on and what do you do? I work on a team which is unique to the Washington D.C. City Year site, the HIV/AIDS Outreach Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.) Team. The District of Columbia’s HIV/AIDS infection rate is rivaling that of some western African nations, so it is our desire on the H.O.P.E. to counter these statistics through education, prevention, and outreach for the residents of the city. I work in D.C. middle schools teaching a CDC approved HIV/AIDS curriculum that aids young people in making smart decisions, focusing in particular on making smart sexual decisions. Our team also works with area HIV/AIDS related non profits and organizations to offer services such as HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, HIV/AIDS related outreach in communities where the HIV infection rate is most prevalent, and representing City Year in panels, health fairs, and workshops related to HIV/AIDS in D.C.

Why did you join City Year and why do you serve? I joined City Year because I am passionate about making the world a better place for all its inhabitants. I graduated from college a couple of years ago and felt that the job I had was paying the bills, but at the end of each workday I was left feeling socially and morally bankrupt. There was this desire within me to do something meaningful. I had heard of City Year, looked into it and applied, and am now doing something with my life that challenges me everyday but fills me with a sense of pride in myself, my coworkers, and my country. I serve because I know that the best way to change the world is to involve myself whole heartedly, fully, and passionately. Being in City Year is inspiring because it enables me to be around like minded idealistic individuals like myself. We support each other when challenged and the energy, passion, and strengths we all possess have proven City Year D.C. to be a powerful organization of change in D.C. and across the country.

What are you most excited about this year? The best way to grow as a person and a leader is to be challenged and step outside of one’s comfort zone. City Year enables me to do that everyday. I have met people I would have never possibly met and learned about issues firsthand I would have never learned about otherwise. I am most excited about learning and growing so that I may leave this year as a stronger, more knowledgeable, and more compassionate leader to go out and truly change the world.

What are you most nervous about this year? I am nervous that my non City Year friends and family will get neglected. City Year is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, and so personal lives can tend to get neglected. I think time management and prioritizing will be the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen.

What is something most people don’t know about you and wouldn’t guess? This is slightly embarrassing, but I was born cross eyed and when I was 5 years old had an operation to remedy this. However, whenever I get tired or bored my eyes tend convert back to their previous cross eyed state. It’s scared a few of my college professors when I was sitting through a boring lecture.

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