Everything I’m doing right now feels so weird. I’m packing up all of my things, and it’s such an odd feeling to look around and watch the room — my room — become more and more empty. I’m rolling up all of my clothes, hoping that everything will fit into the two suitcases I brought with me, and every second I think more seriously about where I will be and what I’ll be doing just 24 hours from now. I’ll be setting up my stuff back in Boston, eating food that I’ve prepared for myself, rather than the delicious Mexican cuisine that Lino and Amy have been making me for the past month. I’ll be sleeping in a real bed, rather than a mattress on the ground (which will be a plus), but I’ll also be surrounded with completely different people.
Saying goodbye to all of the TFA teachers tonight was one of the weirdest things I’ve done in my life. Every time I’ve said goodbye to someone in the past, it’s been less of a goodbye-for-real and more of a I’ll-see-you-again-in-5-months-or-so type of thing. This time, it was I’ve-only-known-you-for-a-month-but-I’m-leaving-tomorrow-and-probably-never-coming-back-ever-so-this-is-goodbye-for-real. And damn, it was a weird feeling. I also said goodbye to all of Kori’s students, and that was really weird too. One student, who was supposed to be absent because she had a basketball game, stopped by with a teddy bear and a note – probably the nicest note I’ve ever received – to say goodbye. I also got to give my “Who is Miss O” presentation to the third period class, which I was supposed to do weeks ago but we never seemed to have time.
This week was about tying up all of the loose ends of my amazing journey here at Gadsden, which included a couple of things. Firstly, Shilpa and I stopped by the front office to purchase ourselves some Gadsden apparel, and I ended up with a nice black “Panther Pride” t-shirt. I stopped by Mr. Franzak’s room to give him the URL to a website I had promised to share with a few of his students, and summed up my visit to him (his choice adjective was “interesting” and I completely agreed). I spent a good portion of my time distributing flyers for AP Bio and encouraging students to sign up for the class. I made a huge chalk drawing as well- one that (hopefully) every student saw as he or she sauntered from his or her last class of the day to the parking lot a couple days ago. I danced for first period, and I danced for the TFA teachers tonight, and dancing reminded me of all of the cool things I get to go back to in Boston.
I’m definitely going to miss the TFA family I’ve met and become a part of over the past month, but hey, I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to get back to Boston to take more dance classes, more chemical engineering classes, and to be reunited with all of my friends from school. However, this semester is going to be different. This month has provided me with an incredible experience that has taught me a lot about education and even more about myself. I feel like I have a stronger grasp at the idea of what I might want to do when I graduate, and I can finally feel myself taking seriously the advice I’ve gotten from one of my most influential role models at MIT- that coursework is not nearly as important as the other aspects of an MIT education. And this semester I’m going to try to focus on prioritizing based not on my GPA, but on my passions.
Today I had a conversation with one of Kori’s students who frequently has trouble focusing in her class, but is really smart. While other students were working on plugging in values to the age-old equation d=rt, I was helping this student learn how to do dimensional analysis to change units. It was the first time that I had really been able to connect with him, but more importantly, it was the first time I had ever seen him take a classwork assignment seriously. He usually does the work really quickly, turns it in, and goofs off for the rest of the class period, but today when I left him to work independently, he was focusing – pencil to paper- on his velocity and distance worksheet. I told him at the end of class how much I appreciated his hard work and how I want him to continue to work hard throughout high school. I don’t know if I was able, in those couple minutes of serious conversation, to thoroughly convince him that college is a really good option for him, but even if I gave him some tiny inkling of a feeling that continuing his education after high school is a good idea, that means I’ve made a difference. I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. How weird is that?