Interview: Conversations with our Students

By Elijah Fanelli, City Year AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America Team at Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 Pilot School.

As a City Year corps member, I serve in a 6th grade humanities classroom and help facilitate one of the Young Achievers after-school programs, HASP (Homework After-School Support Program). Through both of these settings, I have been able to watch several of my students grow both personally and academically. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of these incredible young adults. Below is the conversation we had.

Me: Hello!
S (Student)
: Hi.

Me: So, first question. What do you think City Year does best?
: I think the thing that City Year does best is they help people out with their work and also help people with difficult situations.

Me: Ok, can you give me an example of what a difficult situation might be that City Year helped you out with, or that you saw City Year help someone else with?
S: If somebody has a bad day, they’ll talk to them one on one and help them out and figure out strategies to get them through the day.

Me: Is there an area that you think City Year has personally helped you out with over the course of the year?
: Ummm…Not really…

Me: I think I’ve noticed a few huge things. One is that you’ve been getting down to work really well. Even if you get upset, you’ve been able to get back to work in just a few minutes. Remember how hard that was at the beginning of the year?
: Yeah, I guess. I have gotten better there.

Me: Yeah you have! What do you think your favorite activity of the year has been?
: When we were making the blankets for the children…

Me: So the Blankets for Babies service event? (This was an event where students, parents and City Year after-school staff joined together to make blankets for young children in low-income families)
S: Yeah.

Me: Anything else? You mentioned a few things earlier…
: Oh yeah, when we had half homework (reward free time) and we played football.

Me: Yeah that was a lot of fun. Was the first time you’ve played football?
S: Yeah, it was.

Me: Is there anything else that you think is important to know about City Year?
: Umm… What got them into doing this stuff, like, who’s helped them in the past years that they’ve been growing up. Who helped them get to do this stuff and who supported them?

Me: Thats a good question. I’d say for me, personally, it was some of my family.  I think they let me try things out for myself and helped me learn from the consequences of my actions — either good or bad. They also encouraged me all the time. I know you get that every day from a lot of people in this school.
: Yeah, I do.

Me: I make sure of it!

Me: Well, thank you for letting me hear your perspective. It really means a lot that you agreed to talk with me here!

When working as a corps member, we don’t always get to see the fruits of our labor. Even rarer is when we get to hear it from the mouths of our students. This interview was an amazing opportunity to hear the student perspective of what City Year is best at.

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