“I never imagined City Year would give me something to be passionate about”
Eloise, a Volunteer Mentor with City Year Greater Manchester in 2020-21, shares her story
“I joined City Year because I wanted a challenge. I knew I wasn’t a confident person and it would be completely out of my comfort zone but I wanted to do something where I could throw myself in at the deep end. I was also hoping I’d get an insight into what I’d want to do in the future as I had no clue. I never imagined it would give me something to be passionate about. I’d never really been passionate about anything but City Year captured and brought out a new emotional connection to work. To start with, I was terrified but the year completely exceeded my expectations and, without a doubt, has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
“The kids made me proud every single day but there was one child in my class who had English as an additional language who stood out. At the beginning of the year, he would spend breaktime standing against the wall with his hood up, not speaking to anyone, even when other children asked him to play. He didn’t want to form a relationship with me or his teacher.
“Every breaktime I would stand next to him, possibly annoying him by following him around, but it meant that when the other kids were talking to me, they were sort of interacting with him too. Eventually, over months, the hood started to come down. I didn’t have to find him because he started to find me and then one day, I managed to encourage him to play with the other children. It was the most I had seen him smile all term. Over the following weeks he joined in as one of a group of friends, not because the other children were trying to be kind. He also started to be the one to initiate conversations, asking me about gaming and technology. I felt like we had a kind of trust and he would beckon me over in class to check his work and help him out.
“During the year, there was a change in the boy’s home circumstances and he had a great class teacher but it was such a proud part of City Year for me, watching this quiet little boy take small steps to grow his confidence. I like to think that I contributed. I saw a child who was disengaged and helped him to become engaged. I saw a child that was terrified of adults and helped him interact.
“I’m now in my final year at Leeds reading Psychology and although I’m not certain what I will do next, I have a clearer idea than I did 12 months ago. I was quite directionless but since being at City Year I’ve realised what’s important to me. I’ve found my passion and I want to explore it. I’ve realised how much I enjoyed spending time with my class and it has made me consider working with kids, especially those who don’t have a perfect home life. I’d like to have a career where I make a difference. I’d never imagined how rewarding it could be.”
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