Interview with Marc Schlief: Taking Service from LA to Boston

By Jennifer (JJ) JavierCity Year AmeriCorps member serving on the MFS Investment Management Team at the Dever-McCormack Upper School.

Not too long ago, at the beginning of the year, a few of us from the MFS Investment Management Team serving at the Dever-McCormack Upper School were in our red City Year uniforms, waiting anxiously for a train. All of a sudden we hear, “Yeah! City Year!” We all turn and a young gentleman walks up to us, grinning from ear to ear. “I served in City Year Los Angeles!” he said. Being a native Californian, this excited me to no end. I instantly wanted this person to be my friend. We encouraged him to attend City Year Boston’s Opening Day at English High School and he ended up serving on my project, painting a set of bleachers.

Since then, Marc has been involved with City Year Boston by volunteering on more service projects. He is also a student here in Waltham at Bentley University, one of City Year’s Give-A-Year scholarship sponsors, and continues to help City Year by hosting info sessions on campus.

Marc served in City Year Los Angeles in 2010-2011 in a fourth grade classroom at Malabar Elementary School in Boyle Heights. I sit down with the alumnus to ask about his City Year experience and how it helped set him apart.

What is your favorite memory from City Year Los Angeles?

I was a math and literacy coordinator and one of my favorite moments was when I threw my first whole school event – Nightmare on Malabar. It was a Halloween-themed math event that involved parents, community members, students, teachers, faculty and staff. I was overwhelmed for weeks planning it, but it was amazing to see my team’s hard work come together for the hundreds of people that came. The second I saw the kids having fun – it was all worth it. To get parents and kids to come to an event after school in a neighborhood where that wasn’t the norm at all was incredible to see.

What did you take away from serving at City Year? 

I took a lot of things away from my year. I’m a computer science major and a lot of people ask me what that has to do with tutoring kids for a year. I’ve been interviewing for internships recently and everything from working on a diverse team, to being incredibly detail-oriented is directly relevant to any job I’ll ever have…interviewers always have so many questions about my experience. The perspective I’ve gained from the year and the ability to take a step back and look at situations with a neutral point of view has also been huge – working on a team with people from all over the country and from different backgrounds really changed how I think and how I approach different situations. And as a byproduct of last year I’m also a huge morning person now.

Do you have any advice for incoming corps or prospective City Year corps members?

Two things: be open-minded and be flexible. You don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing and City Year can’t tell you what you’ll be doing since everyone from every school from every site is going to have a different experience. Just be open-minded to whatever comes your way. And be flexible – entire days can change at the drop of a hat and you need be able to adapt quickly. You’ll be doing 100 things at once and you have to look calm and collected in front of the kids even if behind the scenes things might be crazy.

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