Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Idealism Revisited

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

From my post on the 2nd floor I can see five little bodies fidgeting on stage. There is a lump in my throat as each one of our students passes the microphone down the line and introduces themselves to the crowd of dapper professionals on the floor in front of them. I cannot adequately express how proud I am of the five students who are representing Turner Elementary School at City Year Washington, DC’s Idealism in Action Gala by leading the city’s glitterati in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Despite being in elementary school the students are perfectly poised as they recite their lines. Seeing the students I have come to know and love succeed in this way makes my heart swell. Lately, that feeling has overcome me time and time again. I felt it last week while I watched from backstage as our after school students nailed their lines in the school play, and the week before when two of my most troublesome students stood up and won the opportunity to represent Ms. Lofland’s class in the school-wide spelling bee. To me these moments are the embodiment of my own personal idealism: the proof that the students I have spent the past ten months working with will defy the limits set upon them by their community and go on to change the world in their own ways.

As my service year comes to an end I am holding fiercely to these moments. I want to remember every cheeky smile, every smart comment, every bear hug, and every new word and math problem conquered; to stock up on these little memories in hopes that they will carry me through whatever comes next. With just two weeks left before graduation I look apprehensively down my path to the future and wonder what I am going to do without the wellspring of inspiration that is my smart, precocious, beautiful students and my goofy, fun, hardworking teammates. But at the same time I know that City Year—a year that has at times felt like the longest, hardest year of my life—has changed me. It made me stronger, fiercer, and more dedicated to taking action on the issues that matter to me. And that, to me, is Idealism in Action.

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