one year ago, i stepped on a plane headed to a city i never have been. i left chicago while the leaves were changing colors and the air was on the brink of becoming crisp. when i stepped onto California soil and waited to be picked up from the airport, the dry heat greeted me along with towering arms of palm trees. everything was new: rolling mountains, busy highways, diverse languages, public transportation. this has been a growing and learning season. it feels cliche to say this, but i’m going to do so anyways: if you asked me this time last year if i would still reside in LA 365 days later, i probably would have laughed. nothing about my plan after college included serving in an urban area and knowing absolutely no one. but as the days living in LA increased, the city and everything about it captured my heart. the people i met and served alongside with at CSM and now in City Year reminds me that this is exactly where i am to be. i’m humbled to continue to be a part of the restoration process in the city.
it’s a frequent question around here: why do you serve? why give a year to service? why los angeles? when i tell others that originally i am from Chicago (and more specifically the outskirts of the suburbs (aka a farm)), it is assumed that i moved here for City Year, which is a theme for those who are out of state. my story in the city of angels started with a dream to live in an intriguing place like California. this began because one day in the future, i would like to serve overseas. i heard about the various ethnicities represented in the second largest city in the US. it is coined “the first third world city.” since i never travelled abroad and to prepare for the possibility, the next best location i thought to be is somewhere like LA. after much toil applying for jobs in california, i was finally offered an apprenticeship position with Center for Student Missions. as i moved to LA and settled in, i tried to figure out my purpose was in this new city. it was not until recently that the puzzle pieces formed together. to be honest, i still am not 100% certain what exactly i am to do here, but i do know this:
my purpose is to serve alongside with inner city students in public education. i have been exposed to the pedagogy of this system and the affect it has on our future generations. i serve because i believe education is a key to break the cycle of poverty and restore the brokenness of injustice.
i join 282 other young adults at City Year Los Angeles. we commit 10 months to serve the inner city. but for me, service is not limited to a year. i don’t know exactly where i will be in 365 days, maybe still in LA, or back in Chicago, or perhaps somewhere completely new. but no matter where i am, i commit lifetime to serve others.