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Life After City Year

August 17, 2012


By Michael Ho, Service Leader

Graduation.  Traditionally, a time that I have always looked forward to.  Graduation from High School meant venturing off to University and being on my own.  Graduation from University meant getting to experience the real world.  But graduation from City Year?  What did that mean?  I wondered this to myself even as I sat through the ceremony and enjoyed the reception.  What was is it that I was graduating into? Some might say into the real world.  I disagree.  I graduated into a better world. 

50,000 plus service hours, over 20 service projects, hundreds of students tutored.  That’s what our corps accomplished.  That’s what we graduated from, and that’s why we were celebrating.  My peers and I completed a program that we sweat, bled, cursed, cried and, most of all, smiled our ways through.  We encountered transformative leaders, troubled residents and down-trodden youth.  We joined a national movement to reform education, and we ensured that our voices were heard.  Graduation was bitter sweet.

Summer in New Orleans.  Dripping sweat in an unhealthily warm room, it was hard not to think about what I missed.  I missed being cold.  I missed corps members.  I missed my team leader.  Most of all, I missed the connections that City Year offered.  I missed joking with students and discussing the latest video games with them.  I missed participating in football practice with the High School team.  I missed long hours with teachers who inspired me and who I can proudly say are my friends to this day.  I missed being a part of a cause much, much larger than me. 

I did a lot of soul-searching this summer. 

It’s odd to think that summer is coming to a close.  Dragging on and on, the summer seemed like it was here to stay.  Maybe it was because I experienced mishap after mishap.  All of my choices seemed to go amiss, and the world was turning against me.  My car broke down.  My LACY plan fell through.  My lease expired and I was forced to move out.  Even joys like my birthday in late June seemed to overstay their welcome.  I was listless.  So that’s how I came to be lying on a mattress on the floor, reminiscing of the great time I had the last year, and how I took the time for granted.  How odd, it seemed to me, that time could pass quickly.  I remember taking out a legal pad and writing, in big bold letters, “Steps to put your life back together.”  I wrote down three sentences.

1)      Find a place to live

I did just that, managing to find an amazing and affordable place to live right on the parade route.

2)      Rejoin City Year

During this point of summer I was reunited with a Senior Corps Member who raved about the experience and even introduced me to some of the current corps.  I was instantly reminded of myself in a few of them, which is both fun and odd to me.  It was strange to think that it was only a little over 10 months ago when I had just arrived in New Orleans.  Well, a lot can happen in just a summer, as I learned, much less 10 months.  After meeting these individuals and witnessing their unending idealism, I ached to rejoin City Year.  I finally knew what I had been searching the whole summer for.  The solution to my third sentence on that wrinkled, yellow legal pad paper.

3)      Be Happy

I am


Michael Ho joined City Year New Orleans for his second consecutive year of service on August 1st. As Service Leader, he manages all data that comes through the site and acts as the Site Literacy Lead. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2012 11:11 am

    this is awesome MiHo. Glad you wrote it!

  2. Amy Jackson permalink
    August 18, 2012 1:36 pm

    Very inspiring, glad you’re back. Looking forward to reading more posts from you this year!

  3. TaiQuay Smith permalink
    August 22, 2012 10:47 am

    Congrats on continuing to serve NOLA

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