Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 21 2012

Benevolent Strangers

I know no talk has meaning until it’s coupled with action, but this whole letter-mentoring thing is out of control.

This morning I went to bed at two and woke up at 6:20. When I left for school, 14 people had signed up to help (already impressive). Right now, just a day after my initial post and one email to a small group of friends and family, 61 people have showed interest on the google form. SIXTY-ONE!! I’m just shy of halfway there for finding the number I’m looking for (130).

Some highlights:

Volunteers hail from: PA, New York (all over the state), Atlanta, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, Chicago, Houston, Connecticut, Mass, Vermont, San Fran, San Antonio, Seattle, DC, Baltimore, Durham, Rhode Island, New Orleans, Wisconsin, & New Mexico

AND Internationally from: Switzerland, London, Hamburg, & Vancouver.

Some occupations include: Occupational Therapist, Journalist, Engineers (structural, chemical), Brand Manager, Infectious Disease Researcher, Editor, Violin Teacher, Graphic Designers, Android Developer, tons others, but my favorite is:

Astronomer/Rocket Scientist- I work on scientific payloads that are launched on small rockets to collect data on other galaxies and planets


But Lord am I happy I included the question that asks Why are you interested in participating in this project? Because I got answers like these:

  • I want students to know that whatever they dream, they can accomplish it.  I wanted to work in astronomy since I was in first grade- I have school journals that go back and trace my interest.  My parents didn’t know a ton about how to help me get there, but they did what they could and found me some more knowledgeable adults to lend a hand along the way.  I’m currently finishing up my PhD and have a strong interest in education and leading today’s students to make a difference… this is an awesome project and I’d love to help!
  • This sounds awesome! I love talking about what I do for a living and it’s something that not many young people know about….I am an epidemiologist and I research diarrhea! That might sound gross but it is a very serious problem in developing countries. I’ve visited countries around the world. When I was younger I felt like no one gave me a chance…there were always “smarter” more outstanding students…I think it’s important for kids to know that even if you’re not the best student or valedictorian, you can still go on to do great things.
  • Can I be paired with some of my old kids plleeassseee (hehehe, Sarah!!)
  • I grew up in Marvell, Arkansas; a small rural community where cotton is king. My mother raised me and my sister with little to nothing, relying on assistance from the federal government to support our family. I know first hand the feeling of growing up poor in the Arkansas Delta. I know first hand the the impact that systemic racism has on a child’s life. And I know first hand how a child’s dream can be smothered by the few opportunities surrounding them. It is because I know these things, and because I was able to create a life much different from the one in which I was raised that I would like to participate in this project. I did not end up at Brown by luck or happenstance. It literally took a village to see my potential and pour their resources in me so that I could climb over the wall. But I understand that just making it over the wall isn’t good enough. As someone who has been through a number of things that your students go through on a daily basis, it is my duty to throw the rope back over the wall so that another kid can climb over as well. I thank you for creating this project and I hope that I can play a part in helping a young sixth grader realize that there is more to life than the endless rows of cotton.
  • It’s an amazing idea; I believe in the power of mentorship; I want to support Caroline.

So even though my first day of school was sub-par and mediocre at best, coming home and reading through all of these responses just floors me. I am so proud of how much strangers love my students — and how much they want for them — without ever meeting them.

I still need (ideally) almost 70 people to make this work, so thank you for all the sharing/tweeting/emailing, and any further mention means a world to me and who can say how much to my kids.


One Response

  1. Cindy

    I shared your request with some people I find inspirational, amazing, proactive – I know at least two have responded! Go Caroline!

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