The experience of being an RYY Fellow at my host site has really affected the way I think about the workplace (as a general concept) and about the education and nonprofit sector. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but a lot of it is due to the way my two roles interact–I’m the RYY person who is in Youth Development & Family Services, and I’m also the only person in YDFS who is an RYY/VISTA fellow. I’ve been doing some thinking, which doubles as practice for personal statements for grad school…
A more holistic view of the obstacles to education in cities:
As a result of where I work, I’ve gotten to observe the way that community-level events impact students. It’s fairly obvious how much national policies can affect what goes on in classrooms, and many of the challenges that students face are attributed to events or issues in their personal lives, but I’ve gotten to see firsthand the effects that districtwide or even citywide “news” has on real people. I have been fortunate enough to attend meetings like Roc the Future and the Greater Rochester After School Alliance, which allow the major players in similar but separate organizations to come together, and I’m forming a realistic picture of how those decisions and alignments can change the pressures on schools. This brings me to something else:
People really do matter.
I think one of the biggest reasons that I had such a positive experience this year is my supervisor’s attitude, not just toward me but toward the work itself. You can tell she believes it’s important and that each person can make a difference. She is optimistic, energetic, and knows how to support people. I see these carry over to other people, which is so important in a field where so much attention is paid to negativity. Sitting in cubicles all day really shows that moods are contagious, and people’s attitudes carry over to their work. It’s another side to understanding how things work in Rochester–in addition to decisions and trends, there are attitudes and perceptions to contend with.
When I started as a VISTA, I really wasn’t sure what my long-term plan was. I had some vague ideas about going into public health, but I hadn’t really seen a program that was exactly what I was looking for. I have always wanted to eventually get my PhD and write, but I didn’t know about what. But now I have some fancy GRE study materials, and I’m going to apply for teaching fellowship/master’s programs this winter. Not TFA, but programs that prepare you to teach in public schools for a longer period of time and really become a skilled teacher. One of the things that really inspired me to do this was a class I took in Advancing Youth Development. It was meant for youth workers rather than teachers, but it gave me some ideas on how to get youth excited and how to let them have ownership of their learning.