Monday, March 28, 2011

Appreciative Inquiry

By Isabel Huston, corps member serving on the CSX Team at Turner Elementary School

We have passed the halfway point of our service year, and yet—to me at least—it feels like we left Basic Training Academy for the schools only yesterday. Working with children can be a challenge. My students constantly push the limits of my patience and while working in the unique capacity of a City Year corps member, I often feel like I am swimming in uncharted waters.
Yet, I know that City Year has changed my path in life and connected me to a movement and a purpose that I was ignorant of a mere seven months ago.

Last week, I was reminded of this fact by the discussion prompt for our Idealist Journey Session. Idealist Journey (IJ) is a group reflection that corps members engage in once or twice a month. It gives us a chance to consider our service with corps members outside of our teams. IJ is basically a time for corps members to re-ground themselves in the values and mission of our service. So, this week, we encountered the following prompt, and it made me stop for a second:

“…Acquisitive inquiry is an opportunity for you to recall a ‘peak experience’: a time from the past few months when you felt most alive, present, and connected to purpose. This experience holds insights regarding your greatest strengths and the work you are most meant to do in the years ahead.”

Forgetting the frustrations of day-to-day life, I was able to take a step back and appreciate the growth and connection that my City Year experience has afforded me. Where most of the people I graduated from college with complain about feeling purposeless in their 9-5 salaried positions, I have 22 precocious, loud, beautiful reasons to get up for work every morning. While these friends outside struggle to figure out where they fit in the bigger picture, I see other red jackets on the street and am reminded that I am part of something bigger than myself, part of a network that spans the entire country. And while my fellow twentysomethings wonder where they will find inspiration in their lives, my day job has ignited a passion for social justice and education that I know will carry me through my next job, graduate school, life.

Will you feel the same way about the next year of your life?

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