Growth Through Service

Jazmin at CYO holding up a sign that reads rainy

I usually begin my day by waking up at 8:30am, do prayer and journal. At 9:20ish, I meet my community mates Janet and Miriam at the dining table where I usually try to eat a quick breakfast and have tea. At around 9:45, we all carpool towards Northside CYO. The morning drives are usually filled with the Country station playing in the background. Janet and I really enjoy Sam Hunt and I have started to warm up to country music much more. From there, I walk into CYO and go down towards the basement. I work in the youth department so I will spend most of the day down here. My role looks a little different each day; however, on most days, I will start off at 10:00am prepping for my morning academy program. This is a 2-week program for newly arrived refugee youth who are waiting to be placed in Syracuse schools to help them transition into school and provide English support. This program has been one of my favorite experiences and I am so grateful to see the excitement and joy that these youth show me each day.

At 12:00pm, the youth will arrive to CYO, and I will line up the middle school and high school youth and call them over to come into the large classroom. I will then begin by doing some English conversation practice with the youth and some review from the previous day. Each youth is at different stages of English, some are more advanced than others, but I try to create a safe place where they can feel comfortable practicing English.                                                          

From there, I begin my lesson which is usually focused on different topics like places in school and reading class schedules. I will lead the lesson but will have additional support from the Nationality workers (Syracuse employees who are bilingual and have teaching experience). These individuals are awesome teachers, and I am very grateful for the extra support.

After teaching the lesson with the older youth, I will swap with the ENL teacher and enter the Elementary room and teach the same lesson but in a way that accommodates to their level. For example, I may play some songs like the Alphabet or have them gather in a circle and practice saying the words.

After academy finalizes at around 2:00pm I will take my break and come back at 2:30 for the afterschool program. This program is for youth that are currently enrolled in school and is focused to provide a space where youth can practice their English and build friends with other youth in the program. I will provide snacks for all the youth as they arrive and then I will take my middle school group to the other class where we will do English practice and do an activity like art, cooking, or science. At around 5:00 we will finish program and have the youth line up, dismissing them and doing drop-offs for those that need it. At 5:30pm I come home and usually relax right before dinner or prep dinner.

I deeply love my job and no matter how crazy it is at times; I would not change it. I think that one of the best parts has been being able to grow in my relationships with each youth. Additionally, it has been super rewarding to see our kids excel and grow in their confidence too. The only low that I can think of is seeing some of my kids struggle to adapt to their new surroundings. Immigrating to a foreign place and leaving one’s home is no easy task and sometimes youth feel extremely frightened to enter school, especially the younger kids. I think it can be hard sometimes to leave a youth crying and not have closure. I pray for each of these kids and know that God will help them.

Similarly, I deeply love my community, I love coming home each day and feeling like we are all family. I feel very loved and accepted and know that I can always count on each of my community members. I love the fact that through FrancisCorps I am living with people who share similar values of service, love for others, and growth. It is so special to journey together and grow with my community members by my side.

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