I’m beginning to lose track of time… I’ve been in New Mexico less than a week and it feels much longer- I mean that in the best way possible. These past few days were centered about building community with our New Mexico group and also with some of the people in New Mexico. Conversations about our values and desire to end educational inequality (specifically for the Native students in New Mexico) have been frequent and seem to be becoming the foundation for some really great friendships.
We watched a documentary filmed in Navajo, NM that followed the life of three students, specifically their experiences running track in high school and where that led them academically. As noted during a discussion following the film, the documentary focused a lot on the negative aspects within the community. When speaking of Native communities, common themes that come up are the poverty, dependency on alcohol and drugs, and the poor education the students are receiving. While these issues are important to discuss, it is more important to look for the good that is occurring within the community. It’s hard to find hope amongst what seems like so much hopeless but one of the students from the film said that’s what is needed. Getting the Navajo student’s perceptive was so compelling. He said the students know all the negative things going on within their community, they live it…what they need is to be shown the opportunities that exist outside of what they know.
Our last night in New Mexico was spent doing home-stays. My home for the night was in Navajo, NM… aka one of the most beautiful places I have seen. The family that opened their home up to me and another TFA corps member was so great! They had a cat and a granddaughter- I enjoyed playing with both. We later joined a group of other TFA members at another host house for dinner. This house was in an even more rural area without running water! Water was pumped from a well and fresh bread was made and cooked over a fire. After dinner we hiked Brain Mountain (?)…Again one of the most beautiful places I’ve experienced!
After leaving our different families’ homes we met once more to debrief and explore the Gallup Flea Market some. I’m currently in Phoenix, Arizona waiting to begin Institute (“boot camp”/learning how to teach/teaching summer school) tomorrow morning. The 5 hr-ish ride here was so beautiful. I saw my first cactus. Cacti are everywhere. I’m pretty sure I saw the Rockies too. I think. Phoenix is hot; a friend once described this to me as feeling like someone was constantly blowing a hairdryer on you… her description was absolutely accurate.
I’m excited (and nervous) to begin teach summer school but I miss New Mexico already. Weird.
I’ve been pretty bad about taking pictures but here’s 2.