Facing La Frontera

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 09 2010

I’m a Valley Girl!

There’s so much running through my head. I want to remember everything, but let’s see if I can summarize.

I don’t know if I ever announced it, but I have been placed! 7th grade English…. I’m quite excited!

Last week, I took my Generalist TeXes test. I found that I overstudied, but also that the practice questions were not quite as close to the real thing as expected. The actual test seemed to be more intuitive….common sense if you will. It did help to review though, and I’m always happy to overstudy as opposed to understudying.

Then, my sister graduated high school, I hung out with my family for a bit, said goodbye to CS and Miss SL, my roomie for the past 3 years, and headed to San Antonio. There, I hung out with one of my best friends and her family. They bring out my best boricua side :)

Tuesday, headed down to the Valley! After months of thinking about this “Valley”, it was surreal to finally be heading down. Fully equipped with my car GPS, my Tom device, my Google map, and personal directions from the people who were hosting me, I didn’t think there was any way I could fail. And I was right :) I felt well taken care of.

My host family was so great. It was a wife and husband, and the wife is former TFA. They both work in my district, and I got some insight from them. They were really so welcoming, and it was a great way to be introduced to the Rio Grande Valley corps.

The next morning, my Tom stopped working, and I was SO grateful for the car GPS. Otherwise, I would’ve been TOTALLY stranded. As it was, made it to the campus where we’re staying and checked in. Probably took about an hour to get everything, parking permit, etc.

The rest of the day is a blur. But here are a few things that stood out to me.

1) I suck at packing. Let’s just say, I thought I was being smart to pack one suitcase with casual clothes and the other with bizcas. Yea…with that mentality I’ve basically had to unload my whole car.
2) The radio stations down here are predominately Spanish and country. ….I’m so happy!

3) Fish Camp memories. When the staff greeted me this morning, they were so excited. I was reminded of those occasions when I had been planning for someone or something so long, and then when it happens you’re just SO EXCITED. I wonder if that’s what I’ll be like my first day of school…..more likely I’ll be really really sweaty.
4) TFA is so diverse. It really struck me today how we really are from ALL OVER. I met people from Washington, Illinois, Idaho, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Georgia…..it goes on and on! And I’ve heard a wide range of perspectives too….

And yet, we’re all committed to closing the achievement gap.

And we’ll all do it our own way. And for different reasons.

But we’re doing it.

And that is what matters.

4) I got chills today. Multiple times.

We heard from the Executive Director today several times, and his passion was striking. Our keynote speaker at dinner was phenomenal. She’s a community leader in the Valley. Multiple times in this past week, I’ve questioned that this is actually happening. Like, what? I’m headed to the border for two years …. really?

I was reminded of the answer today. And it’s so powerful. There is a HUGE problem in that where you are born and your economic resources determine the opportunities you will have in life. It determines the quality of education available to you. It’s a reality. And we’re working to change that. Corps members have already begun changing that.

It just hit me. that I will be DOING SOMETHING. Making a difference.

And I’m surrounded by 200+ people who all have the same vision. Wow.
5) I’m so lucky to already be placed. Lots of people haven’t been. And my school district has a really tight corps presence. We have an orientation tomorrow, and I’m excited to meet everyone else involved.

You know how it is, you meet lots of people, but the Valley is so broad that I might not see some of them again. But I’ve heard some of the coolest stories. These people are seriously fascinating. Some have lived in Africa, some write and sing their own music, some were gymnasts in college.
I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings!

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