world on fire

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 28 2010


the other day my roommate was answering interview questions for her college newspaper, which is doing an article on the tfa experience. “which aspect of your experience has most surprised you?” she turned to me and read out loud. we both sat there for a moment, considering what our answers would be. “hm. how your time is not your own,” i said, which initially rang true for me. however, approximately 48 hours later, i realized what TRULY has most surprised me about my corps member experience:

the loneliness.

when i applied to tfa over a year ago, i dreamed of building a new kind of life for myself in the bay area. i couldn’t have been more excited about my vision of this life; i even imagined myself learning how to rock climb or something equally ridiculous. (i am, as my boyfriend lovingly calls me, a “city girl” to the core. what’s that? some city girls are still outdoorsy-athletic? ehh…anyway…)

i did not dream of spending my friday nights alone in my apartment, alternately reading, feeding my fish, and sometimes crying. i’ve probably written about this before, but it bears repeating because it’s still very much my experience. turns out it’s hard to relocate to a totally different region of the country, let alone when you have children’s futures resting on your shoulders. if you ever catch me staring intensely into space, chances are i’m thinking about one of two things: one, my loved ones who are conveniently located in texas and even as far away as the east coast, and two, how in the world i’m going to help students like p, who wants to achieve so badly but so far doesn’t quite have the skills necessary to do so — yet has plenty of resentment in their place. anybody who has read jonathan safran foer’s extremely loud and incredibly close will understand precisely what i mean when i say this job, and this life, puts me in heavy boots.

that’s not to say that there aren’t successes, or that i’m always sad. there’s a lot of beauty and a lot to be thankful for in my life and my work out here. still…surround yourself with love, 2011 cms. you’ll need it.

2 Responses

  1. Giselle

    I know exactly how you feel…except I came into this TFA experience with a husband and teenaged son, leaving my older son and parents behind. I feel lonely too, since my family doesn’t understand the sheer frustration I experience in this teaching profession. Hang in there….

  2. Jamie

    HI Maria,

    I was recently accepted into the TFA program and received my first choice for placement: the Bay Area. As I’m sure you remember, they give you just 2 weeks to make one of the biggest decisions and commitments of your life. As thrilled as I am to be accepted (I applied the first deadline, so I knew I really wanted to do this), I do also have some very real concerns about the program and questions about the Bay–although my main concern at this point is whether 5 weeks of Institute will prepare me adequately.

    I understand you are enrolled in grad school now–congratulations!–and I am trying to decide whether more school is the next logical step for me, or if getting real world experience via TFA is the right choice.

    I’m sure you’re busy with school, but if you have time and could drop me a line at – I would greatly appreciate it because I do have a few questions about your personal experiences. If you don’t have time, I completely understand. Your blog alone has been so helpful!

Post a comment

About this Blog

one person can make a difference and every person should try [[JFK]]

Bay Area
Elementary School
Elementary Education

Subscribe to this blog (feed)