June 2, 2009

And so it begins!


I have arrived safely in St. Louis, my new home!

It's strange to think that this is the place I will be living for the next two years at least- I've always been close enough to home to never feel too worried. The midwest seems like a different country to this Northwest chic (although, when I was in a different country, studying abroad in London, I never felt homesick, oddly enough), but I do feel homesick right now. Not an overwhelming or debilitating homesickness- just an ache that won't go away.

Now, I don't want to sound melodramatic or make it seem worse than it is-I really am very happy to be here. I had a great day of traveling through the San Juan Islands by bus and ferry to Seatac airport, a non-stop flight to St. Louis, a quick taxi ride, and I am now comfortably set up on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, ready to learn how to CLOSE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP!! Everyone I have met so far has been friendly, helpful, welcoming and fiercely proud of their city and all that it has to offer (which, now that I've had serious conversations with Lu natives, I have come to realise the city offers quite a lot).

Induction (an introduction to Teach for America and St. Louis) started last night at full speed and we haven't slowed down since (and I don't think we will until Institute is over). I won't bore you with the dirty details, but it all boils down to the idea that there is an achievement gap in this country. We all realize it's there- it is a sad reality. What TFA is trying to do is close the gap by breaking the cycle of low funding, poor teaching and low expectations of students who are born into poverty and have every ability to learn but no opportunity to do so. I feel that, not only because St. Louis is a pretty cool and welcoming city, but because I have come here with a good purpose, that this is where I am supposed to be (even if I am a little homesick right now).

Thanks for all your prayers and good thoughts- I'm sure you're giving me the strength I need. I would really appreciate any prayers regarding housing- I'm visiting three possibilities tomorrow- and with job hunting- I have an interview on Thursday with Fanning Middle School.

I'll keep you updated on any interesting tid-bits and if I find a job/house!!

Love you all so very much,

Jessie

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