If I could sum up the last week in one word it would be reflection. For this reason I find myself avoiding blogging, after reflecting on my own, in small groups, in big groups, on values, on vision, on self, on tfa, on reflections themselves I find it difficult to come back and blog about my experiences. That said TeachforUs.org was one of the resources that I used when deciding to apply and ultimately accept a position with Teach for America, so I shall try.
Induction is a week long formal introduction to the cities we are placed in. The days were LONG I mean like 7:30am to 9pm most nights, and full of reflection and discussion. We got in small groups and shared our “stories of self”, we had community experiences in various parts of the city, and dived into discussions around Teach for America’s story, mission, and core values and specifically our diversity and inclusiveness value. Oh and we reflected.
On our community experiences day we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum dedicated to the victims of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal building downtown. We toured the museum and then were lucky enough to hear the personal story of a survivor who charged us to be grateful everyday. There was also a lot of discussion about the “Oklahoma Standard”. If there is one things I have learned about Okies is that they respond to crisis, drop any and everything to help their neighbors affected. While I may not agree with everything Oklahoma as a state believes in, I can say I am proud to be a member of such a strong community. I hope that in my time here I can help raise awareness about the educational crisis that is leaving many children without the opportunities I was fortunate enough to have. The survivor of the bombing also mentioned how much hope exists in the people that call Oklahoma home. She also mentioned that this state was founded on hope, 50,000 people lined up in April of 1889 in hopes of claiming a piece of land to build a life on. This is something I’ve reflected on.
After a couple of more community experiences we ended the day by hearing from some Dreamers, who were kind and brave enough to share their stories with us. Dreamers are immigrants who came over at a young age, making the United States the only home they’ve ever known, and yet they and their families are subject to deportation. One of our guest speakers, who is roughly the same age as me, grew up going to the school across from my grandparents house. A school that my family has chosen not to attend and instead send children to private schools elsewhere in the city. Yet this man defied the odds, he worked hard throughout school advocated for himself in order to attend OU in Norman, and before the deferment program may never have been able to work a job he now qualifies for. We talked a lot during this session about created a safe environment for our students and their families regardless of their citizenship status, but also about working to change the odds not beat them. And we reflected.
On Saturday we packed up and drove out to Tulsa for the end of our week long induction and beginning of our five week institute which started today. I will be teaching pre-kindergarten starting next week for four weeks! More information about that to come (hopefully).