written by Matt Repka, corps member serving on the ServeDC Team at Johnson Middle School
Barbara Ddamulira is an alumnus of the 2010-11 City Year Washington, DC corps. Before City Year, she graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She served in Ms. Dority’s 2nd grade classroom at the Browne Education Campus in Northeast Washington.
Barbara is now a first-year student in the MPH program at Washington University in St. Louis. She recently returned to DC alongside other alumni to participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service projects with City Year Washington, DC. She spoke to City Year about her service as a corps member and how it continues to shape her life.
What influenced your decision to serve as a City Year corps member?
I was really about service in my undergraduate years [at the University of Alabama – Birmingham]. It was an opportunity to serve somewhere I wanted to be.
What were some of your favorite parts of your corps year?
I think my team, and working with the kids. I really enjoyed myself, lunch clubs, afterschool programming, hanging out with the kids..
How do you think your City Year experience has impacted your life after service?
I think it’s made me gain perspective – in everyday life, I feel like I have a better perspective. We have tunnel vision sometimes, and I think City Year helped me open my eyes – both in terms of working with kids and working with team members.
It challenged the way I thought. City Year forces you to grow – you have no choice but to grow, but it’s up to you how much you grow. Being really involved in school and getting to know my students, being involved in other activities in CY – it challenged me. I taught a step team at Spingarn [Senior High School], did ambassadors [City Year corps member outreach], and was a coordinator for camps [Camp City Year, run during DCPS spring break].
Do you stay connected with CYDC at all?
Well, I just came back for MLK weekend, and I still talk to my team a lot. I became really good friends with my teammates, and a lot of people outside of my team.
Where do you see yourself after graduating [from WashU]?
I’ll probably move back to DC to work. I really liked my time there, and I’ll be looking for a job in a year and a half.
Looking back, what is one thing you think every corps member should know about life during or after City Year?
Go into City Year without any expectations, and try to make the most out of your experience – friendships, relationships with students or in general. Learn the most you can because it pays off in the long run. It’s hard to look outside of City Year while you’re in [your corps year], but try to make the most out of it – truly invest in your teammates and your kids.
What do you miss the most?
I really miss my kids – I went back to Browne this past week [to visit them]. I still talk to one person from Spingarn who’s going through her freshman year of college right now.