During my junior year of college at the University of Puget Sound, I lived in Ghana, West Africa, an experience I describe as the hardest and happiest 16 weeks of my life. Before I lived in West Africa, I was passionate about joining the Peace Corps after college to serve a community in an African country. However, during my time in Ghana I reflected often on my desire to join the Peace Corps, and by the time I returned to the states my definition of civil service had changed considerably. In Ghana, I realized that I spent so many years looking over the fence for a community in need that I hadn’t taken the time to see the potential in my own backyard. So here I am, serving the New Mexican community through Citizen Schools.
In Citizen Schools, we focus a lot on messaging to our students that a college pathway is in their future, if they’re willing to start working for it today. Now, there are always students who take longer to convince that they too can make it to college—students who need a little more investment; a little more “you can do it!” In my search for affirmation that what we do makes a difference, a student provided a simple answer that quieted my every concern. In answer to the question: “Citizen Schools staff expects me to (do my homework, graduate college, be polite, etc.) and they expect these things because…” one student wrote this: “If you give up now on what you do while your [sic] young your [sic] basically giving up on life because you give up at a young age your [sic] going to get used to giving up on everything else in life.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. The work that Citizen Schools does for students is invaluable, and your contribution goes directly toward making that work possible. Thank you for your consideration and support for my organization!