When I decided to volunteer for a year of service, I hoped that I would…
Above and Beyond Expectations
Above and beyond expectations. That is the phrase I would use to describe this year so far. However, to be completely honest, I didn’t really have established expectations. I had a slight idea of what my job would entail, working on the more business end of a Cristo Rey high school, but no concrete “you will be doing x,y, and z.” I was open to the idea of the unknown and the mystery of my job.
The Cristo Rey network is a series of private Catholic schools throughout the U.S. with the mission of providing a rigorous and rewarding curriculum for a targeted group of students with a very small part of the tuition being paid by the student themselves. The way that the students earn the rest of their tuition is through a one-day-a-week internship at a variety of different job sites (ranging from Brooklyn Hospital to the New York Ballet to Morgan Stanley or American Express). Through this internship (different grade levels work different weekdays) students not only earn money towards the school but also gain key business skills that serve them well throughout their venture into higher education and into the business world. I knew to anticipate this much.
I didn’t anticipate being told I would be teaching freshmen basically two weeks from my first day and the class would be entirely my own design. I didn’t anticipate being given free rein to teach what I thought would be important for 14-year-olds to begin their jobs. I didn’t anticipate being in charge of the business education of children when I myself have no experience educating. I didn’t anticipate not knowing how the heck to do my job.
What can I now tell someone else to anticipate? Anticipate coming into one of the most welcoming, caring, and intelligent communities that you could hope for out of a placement. Anticipate someone always willing to help you and mentor you as you take your first hesitant steps into the topsy-turvy world that is high school education. Anticipate having coworkers that will have your back through the good, bad, and the ugly. Anticipate being ready to immerse yourself in the community and going where aid is needed, despite what your job description says. Anticipate caring for your students during, before, and after school hours. Anticipate those precious moments when the students let you into their hearts. Anticipate loving your students. Anticipate being welcomed into a family.
Of course, there will be hard days, draining days, emotional days, and days where you just want to give up. But don’t forget the good parts of the job and the good of the work you are doing. Lean on the community. They will have been right where you are now and will know how to guide you. Remember there is a higher goal in mind than just the day to day. That is where you can draw your strength and dedication.
Above and beyond expectations. That is what I would say about the CRB mission, faculty, staff, and students. Thank you for welcoming me with such open arms. Thank you for pushing me to show myself just how capable I really am. Above and beyond the expectations I had set for myself. I have never felt more capable or encouraged than in this job. Thank you for letting me have the privilege of being a part of your family. And sorry for being so sappy (not really).
Becca Walters: New York City, New York
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