“Reflecting on my Summer in Worcester” – Sarah Ayers ’23

Being a CBL Intern has changed the course of my life. It sounds dramatic, but as a senior beginning my final year at Holy Cross, I feel that I can finally say that and truly mean it. Through the Donelan Office, my understanding of community service and the world of non-profits has grown significantly. I have participated in three different CBL agencies at this point, and all of these opportunities have allowed me to explore and further realize my passion for working and making connections with others. My time as a CBL intern has influenced my life on and off campus. I made new friendships, learned new skills, and even changed my future career path all thanks to my time as an intern. Looking ahead to my final year participating in CBL, I am happy to say that I am the most excited I have ever been to begin volunteering with my partner. Usually, I am full of nervous energy before my first visit, but for the first time, I will not be stepping into an unfamiliar environment but one that I know fairly well. This summer I interned at the Nativity School of Worcester, and I will spend the year tutoring there for two hours each week. 

The mission of Nativity and the important place it holds in the Worcester community both exemplify why it is an excellent place for students to learn the value of service. The Nativity school model is unlike any other school I had experienced prior to this summer. It is an all-boys, tuition-free, Catholic school that aims to provide students living in low-income areas with a learning environment that enables them to succeed. While at school from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm every day, students are given two meals and offered various snacks throughout the day. While the days are long, it is clear that the school serves as a second home for the students. Teachers and faculty members build incredible bonds with students that go far beyond the classroom. This summer I felt honored to be welcomed into this incredible community. Every member—teachers, students, and faculty—truly care about one another. It is a community characterized by joy and love, and for me, it was the embodiment of the Jesuit values that I have spent the past three years learning about. Human dignity is at the center of Nativity’s mission. Teachers make every effort to help students grow as human beings rather than solely focusing on their academic abilities. I got to spend three weeks in the classroom with the sixth graders, and by the end of my internship, I was shocked at how upset I was to leave behind the relationships I made at Nativity. I could tell the students trusted me and that meant more to me than I ever could have imagined. Rather than scaring me away from teaching, as I thought it would, my experience this summer reassured me that teaching may be the career for me. It is difficult, however, to imagine being a teacher anywhere but Nativity. 

Thankfully, I have the opportunity to return to Nativity as a tutor this semester. One of my favorite aspects of CBL is the fact that participants are encouraged to make connections that go beyond the surface level and that extend past one’s time spent with their partner. Returning to Nativity gives me the chance to continue strengthening the relationships I have already formed. I get to continue showing up for the students I spent the summer with even if it is only for two hours a week. There is one final aspect of my internship at Nativity that contributed to my appreciation of my time there. As I mentioned, Nativity plays an important role in the Worcester community. Nativity students and alumni reside in Worcester, and their family members are business owners, local politicians, and advocates for their community. I had never felt as connected to Worcester as I did during my two months at Nativity. One of the great things about CBL is how it encourages students to leave the hill and experience the city that we call home for eight months out of the year. Through Nativity and learning from the experiences of the students and their families, I finally feel that I am not just a student that attends a school in Worcester. I am a member of the Worcester community as well. I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue building upon the connections I made this summer with the students and the city alike. 

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