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City Year Corps Member of the Month - March 2018: Robin Xiong

School Serving: Central High School, Providence 

Hometown: Providence, RI 

What made you decide to join City Year? 

I decided to join City Year because I was disenchanted with the grind of private industry and wanted to feel not only a sense of professional fulfillment, but personal fulfillment as well. 

Why are you committed to serving with City Year? 

I don’t see this as a commitment, I see it as an obligation.

How do you know you are making a difference? 

Even though City Year is tasked with meeting lofty goals, I count every success, regardless the size, as such. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing everything from the quiet, reserved student finally being confident and trusting enough to ask me for help, to the chronically absent student suddenly showing up every day to class, eager to learn. I have a student who told me recently, “Miss, I got this, I’m smart,” who only a few months prior, believed that math was hard and that he wasn’t sure he was smart enough to be in the class. Watching these students go from apathetic to ecstatic once they get  good quiz or test grades is one of the best parts of this job. Yes, not every day is wonderful—some days don’t even feel like you’re making progress. But every day does make a difference. Every day is worth it.

What does it mean to you to have Bain Capital sponsor your team?

I’m proud to be sponsored by a global investment firm that prioritizes civic engagement as part of its business model.

Please share a Starfish Story.

I came into this role afraid that I wouldn’t be able to connect to my students. This assumption was shattered by my starfish student, J’sin. He transferred late into my class, and I originally thought he didn’t like me, but despite that I was as forward and involved with him as I was with every student. One day when I was at lunch duty, he ran up to me in front of all his friends and yelled, “Look, it’s Miss Rob! This is my City Year!” Knowing that he did this without me even knowing what I did to merit his appreciation made it all the more significant. He continues to greet me with the same enthusiasm every day and lets me know whenever I’ve been absent that my presence was missed and that my help was needed. I’m forever grateful to him for making me realize I am completely accepted the way I am, and that the personal element is the most important component in the work that we do.