Another of our Corpsmember of the Year was Christian Ndushabandi. Christian was also selected as the Youth Speaker at this year’s CYCA Annual Youth Corps awards ceremony. The Gazette out of Colorado Springs, also published a story about Christian and his journey to becoming a 2012 Corpsmember of the Year (read it now here) and a copy of his speech is available on YouTube (watch it now here).
(Corpsmember of the Year from MHYC’s Southern Front Range Region)
Christian Ndushabandi joined his first crew with Mile High Youth Corps at the age of 18 with a very different story than most of our Corpsmembers. Christian was born in Rwanda. At the age of one he was saved by his babysitter after his father was killed and his mother was left for dead during the genocide.
Years later, two and a half of which were spent in a refugee camp, Christian and his mom were invited to come to the United States as refugees. Christian welcomed the chance to experience a daily life filled with opportunity and dreams. He enrolled in high school and began learning English. As his English improved and as he adjusted to life in the US, Christian decided it was time to start working. After a couple of jobs in food service, Christian found Mile High Youth Corps.
Christian’s first term as a Corpsmember, taught him a lot and challenged his ideas of American culture. Although he admits that the first 10 day hitch with his camping crew was challenging, he found a welcoming and supportive crew to help him adjust. Christian says, “My fellow Corpsmembers changed the stereotype I had about American teenagers. The members of my crew were curious and they wanted to know about me and my country. They made me comfortable telling my story, and I feel more relieved every time I do.”
Christian has now completed two Summer of Service terms with Mile High Youth Corps and looks forward to using his AmeriCorps Education Award toward a college degree. When asked about the role MHYC has had in his life, Christian says, “MHYC is different from any other job that I have had. It taught me how to work hard and they recognize hard work. I have had fun working and I’ve learned a lot about this culture, how to solve problems and how to make friends.”
Congratulations Christian! You are truly deserving of being called Corpsmember of the Year and your dedication to your own personal growth, your crew and your ability to keep going in the face of adversity epitomize the spirit of the Corps.