Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 12: Teach for America

Tonight's writing prompt comes from Roberta Allen's book again. She has listed a bunch of places. I am supposed to choose the one that stands out to me, and write something about it.

an outdoor market
a public schoolyard
a crack house
a university classroom
a room in a transient motel
a base camp in the Himalayas
a war-torn country
an airport waiting room
a burning building
an attic or cellar

Go.

"This must've been the nice part of town, at some time." she thought to herself as she slowed down and pulled into the parking lot. Glancing down at the post-it note stuck to the back of her hand, she glanced up at the hotel. The sign, with it's faded letters, said "ECONOMY INN: EXTENDED STAY HOTEL". The doors were painted a bleak teal, with chipping paint. She stepped out of the small, black Honda Civic and locked the doors. She stepped forward hesitantly, checking the post-it note again for the room number. Four. She walked slowly toward the far end of the hotel, stepping over cigarette butts and last year's autumn leaves that had blown and collected in the corners of this delapidated hotel.

When she had signed up with Teach for America, it had sounded like such an adventure. Two years teaching inner city kids. She imagined herself in the slums of New York or Chicago. Glamorous, well-known slums. She imagined herself as John Keating in Dead Poet's Society--inspiring these youth who surely needed only a little attention to become brilliant Pulitzer Prize Winners who would mention her name in their acceptance speeches.

But she'd been assigned to Charlotte, North Carolina. Who knew it really existed, let alone that it had slums. But she had commited, and so she had packed her bags and come. She found herself in a classroom with tiles falling out of the ceiling. She had to buy her own chalk. She had to lend her students books. And she had discovered that most these youth weren't hungry for the knowledge she had to share. Most of them could care less about literature. Some of them, she believed, probably couldn't read at all. How they had gotten to the 11th grade she could never fathom.

But there had been one. One who, underneith the initial rolled eyes and the jeers, had shown a genuine interest. Who had approached her, a couple months in, and asked to borrow a book. From that moment on, she'd taken an interest in him. Maybe because he was the only one who'd ever shown the remotest interest at all. Maybe because he was her last hope for a Pulitzer Prize-winning student.

But it had been two weeks. No one else seemed to miss him. She felt frightened to bring it up on her own. She did better if she just stayed under the radar here--not drawing the attention of any other teachers or the students. But it had been two weeks. So she'd asked the guidance counselor for his address, and made up some lousy excuse about missing homework and failing grades. The counselor showed no interest, just pointed to a stack of files and told her to help herself.

But now she wondered what she was doing here. There was no one else around. Only an old Chevrolet Caprice in the parking lot. It seemed stupid suddenly. She felt incredibly young and awkward and out of place, standing there in front of the door--staring at the number 4. She could hear a television set inside. The clinking of a fork against a plate.

She raised her hand to knock. Let it fall. Then turned and walked away. Got hurriedly in her car. Pulled out of the parking lot, and hoped that no one had seen her.

5 comments:

Bryce said...

Your prose flows well! I love it. :)

I need to meet this Roberta Allen. Where can I get that book of prompts?

Bryce said...

Yes! I've read some excerpts from both Emerson's and Thoreau's work. But I absolutely want to read Walden Pond in its entirety. And anything else I can get my hands on!
Thanks for your words of encouragement. I really like the sound of "poet/philosopher". The title itself is inspiring. Something to aspire to, eh? I can't deny what I am at heart. I love it.

Yes, please - Books, books, books. Whatever you'll give me. Thank you in advance, Becca! (Oh, by the way, it is alright if I call you Becca?)

Denise said...

Hummmm- a good story line, you definately caught my interest BUT- well, I love the stories of tupperware cupboards and bugs (with ant babies-). While you try your wings- which is good- may I point out that your ability to write of the ordinary and common with insight and humor delights me. In this genre you have a wonderful voice- and it amuses and entertains wonderfully. As another said- "more!!!" Denise

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I liked it. It made me miss Charlotte, slums and all. :)

RaT Babies said...

Hmm... I thought you may have chosen the Base Camp on the Himilaya's for this one! LOL!