Backgorund: Marissa Rodriguez, age 24, graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism specializing in Electronic Media and Advertising with a minor in Business.
Applied for Teach For America not really knowing what it was, only that it was an opportunity to move to a new part of the country and it was going to be a good stable job right out of college. I applied with no hesitation, completely unaware how big the organization was, or how hard it is to get in. By the grace of God I was accepted and placed in the Rio Grande Valley down here in the most southern part of Texas. The border is literally less than 30 minutes away. Sometimes it truly feels like I am not living in America. This usually has more positives (culture/food/language) than negatives.
I spent the year teaching a 10th grade an intervention Writing class. Some of my students started the year with a 6th grade reading level. The best way Ive heard describing your first year teaching is learning how to fly a plane while in the air. It was a whirlwind with many ups and downs but truly I cannot stress enough how much I was able to grow in just a year by being completely out of my element, pushing my level of comfort and trying something I had no prior experience in.
My hopes for the future are to continue a career that will allow me to move around and see different parts of the country, perhaps even the world. I am unsure what will happen after my two year commitment to teaching but if I could offer any advice to someone moving to a far away place I would advise them to completely accept the conditions you have found yourself and allow yourself to become immersed in your environment. Eat the food, meet the locals, make friends with locals. Adapt and mold yourself. Try new things. There is so much out there in the world, so many ways of doing the most simple things. The best thing you could ever do for yourself as a person is to put on someone else’s glasses and see the world from their perspective.