I woke up to an incredible email around 4am in March that read “I recently came across your information on the OP’s site, and am reaching out because of your impressive leadership with Pass the Mic. As a junior, you have already demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering others and are uniquely positioned to expand your impact through Teach For America by applying early to the 2020 corps.”
Thrilled, I spent approximately 5 hours researching Teach for America. That day, I checked out “A Chance to Make History” by Wendy Kopp (the founder of TFA) and finished reading it within the week.
The morning after I finished reading the book, I had a chat with the Skidmore representative at 4am Australia time.
After hanging up with her, I spent the next two weeks preparing my essay and resume for the application. I had three people look at my essay and spent a week of intensive revision with one wonderful person who works in the Opportunity Program office at Skidmore. I also had a video chat with someone from the Career and Development Center at Skidmore about my resume. I spent an intensive week editing with another OP employee. With the essay and resume finalized, the first application took only 15 minutes to complete.
Some weeks after submitting the initial application, I was invited to provide more information. I filled out academic information, provided transcripts, and had to gather recommendation letters. I emailed the people I recommended to inform them that they’d be receiving emails soon. I spent more time researching Teach for America and learned about the alumni and what people who didn’t complete the two year commitment said about Teach for America.
A little under a month later, I was invited to participate in the final interview. I had to schedule interview times and provide more information before the interview took place.
The interview was 3 hours long. There were about 8 candidates in the video call with two interviewers. We spent an hour each teaching a 5 minute sample class presentation. (I presented a reading and writing exercise based on a small passage from Invisible Man). We spent another hour doing a TFA Q&A and solving a conflict as a team. The last hour was a personal one-on-one interview between me and one interviewer.
After the interview, I filled out my regional and teaching preferences.
A couple weeks later, I was informed that I didn’t receive the position as a TFA 2020 corp member.
At the start of the application process, I said to a mentor, “I’ve started one of the books written by the founder, Wendy Kopp. She says “Wherever there is transformational change for children, whether at the classroom, school, or system level, there is transformational leadership-individuals who believe deeply in their students, who invest them and their families in an ambitious vision of success, and who do whatever it takes to get there. Teach for America’s mission is to be one source of this transformational leadership”.
Nothing about any of that will be easy. Nothing worth doing or having in life will come easy.
I am so excited to be transformed even more than I have been so that I can help transform people who come from places like where I come from.
I’ve just finished the book by the founder of Teach for America and I am more convinced than ever before that I want to do this. I have my interview soon and I’m hoping if it’s meant to be, it goes well. Even if it doesn’t, I feel so much conviction that I want to pursue education further!”
Even though I didn’t get the position, my direction for the future has been sharpened, reaffirmed, and tested. I know without a doubt that I want to serve people, alleviate poverty, homelessness, hunger, and education inequity. Because TFA was the perfect position for me, I know that there are organizations and careers in the world that have values and aims that align with my own. I know that my work has not been in vain and that people see and recognize me.
In addition to that, I have the experience of applying for a full time job. I understand what time, energy, effort, and preparedness is required for an application. (Applying for a full time job online and at 4am for 3 hours also has rewarded me with my own special kind of endurance).
When I think back on my experience abroad, I’ll remember all the wonderful things I’ve seen. I’ll recall the phenomenal people I met and spent time with and grew to learn and share myself with. I’ll laugh about scrambling to find a notary and the look on Grammy’s face when the doctor talked about mosquito nets and the possibility of rabies. I will feel tenderness when I look back on my study abroad experience and remember planning my sample lesson plan for the application and praying after the interview and dancing because it seemed to go well.
Studying abroad is about applying for jobs and study abroad programs for me as much as it is about trying Somalian food for the first time and hiking and having sleepovers with Katy and going to bible study and eating apple crumble and dancing until I’m more sweat than anything else in Sydney, Australia.
Studying abroad is setting me up to stand out. Studying abroad is about growing, about learning, about experience, and about preparing for a better and brighter future.