First...my address for all who have requested.
Ashley L. Poulin / Corps Member
c/o Teach For America (Mississippi Delta)
Delta State University
1003 West Sunflower Road
Cleveland, MS 38733
**ONLY GOOD THROUGH JULY 23rd!!!***
First impression while driving (with Dad for 24+ hours over 2 days - thank you by the way so much for not letting me do that alone!!) into the Delta Region:
**quickly...The "Delta" is actually the region that surrounds the Mississippi river in the northwest of Mississippi AND the northeast of Arkansas because the river serves as the political/geographical border between the two states. The region itself is about 200 miles in radius, but is very small and tightly knit as any other small rural town would be despite the great distances between villages and towns.***
Ok, so back to focusing. The Delta is GORGEOUS. Lush green fields of rice, cotton, and corn cover every inch of land for miles and miles and a few trees break up the bright green monotony. I am not used to such flat land at all; life in NH, 3 years in Syracuse; and a semester in Florence / DC were not flat at all...so I feel lazy walking everywhere. My calf muscles are already taking a hit from the lack of grade in the landscape. Cleveland, the "city"and DSU (Delta State University, the school that i am staying at while I'm training all summer) are sweet, small, hot as can be and populated with some of the most incredibly warm people I have ever met in my life. I think some of the local southern hospitality is rubbing off on myself and other Corps Members because my fellow TFA teachers have all been very warm, out-going, and friendly.
First Impressions of TFA Staff, '09 CMs and other new CMs:
I was joking the first few hours, while unpacking, that I felt like a college freshman all over again I'm living in a dorm...an open-double...I am expected to eat at scheduled dining hall hours and I have been repeating the same "Hi, I'm Ashley. I'm from NH. Yes, it was a long drive. I went to Syracuse University in Upstate New York. I studied History and International Relations. I am going to be teaching High School English. How about you? *insert gasp for breath*" over and over again. After dinner last night and breakfast this morning, I have discovered something that is already changing my take on this whole induction/institute training thing I am partaking in this summer. I am now surrounded by people who are VERY similar to me. (Those of you who know me better than others, hold your tongues and let me finish explaining!) For probably the first and only time in my life, I am surround by people my age that all want to be here, are highly motivated, intelligent, and out-going leaders who are interested in "an opportunity of a life time to give back, learn a lot about a new place and make an impact where they're really needed. We all feel as though we've known each other for a lifetime and it has barely been 24 hours since everyone first arrived.
Also...roommate = awesome and super relaxed personality. We are going to do quite well together. :D Her name is Meghan...just in case I reference her with out putting her into context later or in another post.
First impressions of the process andTFA on a national scale:
By "the process," I simply mean the summer and how it is going to go. I am most impressed with the precise organization of the staff and the constant feedback that is sought from us after each session for the betterment of the following generation of incoming CMs. I do not feel lost, like just a number (there are 300 of us now...Monday another 500 or so arrive from other regions just for training), and I am really enjoying the fact that there is always something to be doing...even if that is recovering from a 6:30am wake-up call from mr. smell phone alarm clock.
TFA, on a national scale, is what we were educated on...and more interestingly and importantly, how we each fit into the broad mission and goals of the organization. To keep this part short and concise, I will simply say that TFA is working ona revolution of change. The "achievement gap" that exists in this country needs to be fixed and is going to be fixed. I give it 10-15 years max and the American public school system will finally be competing on par with the Far Eastern and European models of K-12 education. I am proud to be a part of lifting our country's standards and citizens up to these high standards. Here, as a TFA CM, I feel as though I am investing in my fellow citizens for a better nation, a richer culture, and a prouder people.
All in all, I am as happy as a daisy in the sun here. I am meeting excellent people. I am melting away slowly in the heat, but sticking it out for my first ever green winter. I am going to make a difference and I can feel it already. Ho fuoco nelle mie viene is an Italian saying that translates to I have fire in my veins. More than ever this statement holds to true to the fire in my belly after today, as well as the kind of teacher and person I am going to develop within myself to be the best CM I can possibly be...one with fire, poise, passion and drive. I am so excited. Bring it on Mississippi Delta.
Bring. It. On!!
Also... I am developing a professional career, so please bear in mind that it is entirely possible that a future principal, or fellow teacher, or TFA staff member will find this and read this, so please comment with respect. :) Thanks and love!