Volcanoes

By Sophie Impellitteri

 

     When I saw the sweat drop off my face and streak my mud caked ankles I really thought I am never doing this again. Never again am I going to let someone convince me that hiking 5 hours up a mountain will be fun. I get winded carrying my school books to a third floor math class, so why did I think I would be capable of hauling a 50 pound backpack to the top of a volcano. 

 

        By the time we reached the top and fell onto our bags, I hardly cared about the volcano sitting behind me. All I could think about was how, on top of everything, there was no shower, and no bed. The only things waiting for me were a toosmall tent and a very early hike back down. All I could think was that I never wanted to do this again.

 

        But then we started walking up the final slope to the rim of the volcano. All at once, the forest was gone and my entire view was consumed by reddish rocks. I was in a movie or on Mars or in a dream, and my brain was so preoccupied with consuming it that, for a moment, the aches were forgotten. 

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Self-Care: 2017-2018

By Katherine Wang

The opinions expressed are not representative of City Year or Americorps as organizations.

Self-care has been on the forefront of my mind for years. I can’t let taking care of myself go to the bottom of my priorities, and it’s been especially relevant this year, as I began working full-time as a City Year AmeriCorps Member. From 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM every day, I am “on.” In the morning I get to work with sixth-graders in their math class, and throughout the day I need to be vigilant during lunch, recess, and hallway transitions to ensure that things go smoothly. Right after dismissal, I co-facilitate afterschool for a group of 20 third- and fourth-graders. I am exhausted at the end of each day (and have a glimpse into the reality of “teacher burnout”) from being exposed to such a stimulating environment for 10 hours, but the work I do is equally rewarding as it is draining. I get to watch my students’ confidence grow, work with a team, and learn about myself. A large part of recognizing the rewards comes from taking care of myself.

From a distance, I may seem like the quintessential “self-care expert”: I practice yoga, write in a journal, and I love talking about my feelings. The kind of self-care that working at City Year requires of me is very different from the self-care I practiced for my entire high school career. And I didn’t get to realize this until very recently, since my job has demanded me of things that high school did not.

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Bus rides: Reflection, Spurts of Wisdom, and Slight Nausea

By Erica DeBarge

It has been roughly eight months since we left our 1+4 host sites, and I’m currently on a bus from Hartford to Cambridge after a relaxing winter break. During my bridge year, I spent so many hours on buses, that if I didn’t look up every once in a while, I might forget that I’m actually in Connecticut.

Yes, time has passed. But I don’t find myself forgetting. Not the important stuff anyways. There is no way the terrazas and golden streets of Madrid at dusk, the constant buzzing of el Retiro, the shrieks and cackles of my host sisters, or the salty, wholesome taste of tortilla could ever slip from my memory. And if I do happen to do a little forgetting, I always have the “a year ago today” Google Photos notifications to remind me of the gorgeous cities I was galavanting exactly 365 days ago (as I sit in the library).

I’ve done my fair share of missing, but now I find comfort in my future. Madrid was an inexplicably beautiful experience, but college has begun! I can now study and live and laugh with my closest friends (who are also gifts from 1+4). Some people struggle freshman year to find their people, but I’m lucky to have already located mine.

My first semester back to school went rather swimmingly, but it wasn’t perfect. Something that bothered me and served as a source of stress was my low number of clubs and activities. In September, I was focused on my studies and getting back into the swing of academics, and I was afraid to stretch myself too thin my first semester. Therefore, I didn’t join as many clubs as everyone else had.

Over winter break, I decided to address my dissatisfaction. I scoured the 2020 and 2021 Facebook pages to join e-lists and apply for e-board positions in organizations that looked fascinating to me. I liked pages, researched websites, emailed professors and community service organizations, and became very close with Student Information Services. I can’t wait to get back to campus, get involved, and take charge of this semester.

The moral of the story is that everyone goes at their own pace. Stay present, stay golden, and don’t freak out!

Rocking Chairs

By Sophie Impellitteri

Like many homes in Nicaragua, my host house is littered with rocking chairs. Made from dark wood and wicker backs, some have permanent spots while others appear to multiply as my host mother arranges and rearranges them. On my first night I decide to trust in some orientation advice and take my book out of my room where I fold my legs into an oversized rocking chair. When my host sister joins me and asks something in Spanish, I twist my eyebrows and give her an awkward I have no clue what you said smile. On top of the Spanish, my mind was still trying to digest the fact that this 13 year old girl – irrefutably the scariest demographic – seemed to be being . . . friendly?

She laughs and repeats the question more slowly. In this way we pick our way through simple conversation for nearly 2 hours; rephrasing and miming and rocking and laughing out no entiendo after no entiendo. When she pieces together my thought, she spits it back in the correct grammar. I try to fit the words back into my own mouth, though they feel like square pegs in round holes, and she laughs and slows down.

She tells me about how she hates English class and about her volleyball team and listens to me talk about New England winters. We laugh at how she can’t pronounce Connecticut and at how I can’t pronounce almost anything. We talk about our families and our friends and our schools and where we want to travel and what we want to do when we’re mas grande. The whole time I speak in broken present tense, waving my arms in front of my to show when I’m talking about the future and pointing behind me when telling about the past, but this doesn’t seem to bother her.

It’s not raining but I watch thunderless lightning fill the whole ceiling, because in Nicaragua you’re never really inside, least of all when you’re in the center of your house. At the end of the night I smile because we’re 4 years, 2,000 miles, and a language apart but we both still agree that school is usually boring and that we really hope to see Paris some day. I think every house needs a few rocking chairs.