Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Relentless Pursuit

On podcast I came across an interview with the writer of a recently published book, Relentless Pursuit, that documents the story of Teach for America program via the stories of 4 participants. Pros and cons and doubts and debates were raised in the interview, and issues concerning the program as well as the even more loaded issue with inner city school programs surfaced evidently throughout the interview.

However, despite the fact that more than 50% of the new teachers who join Teach for America end up leaving by the end of the 5-year mark, in the meantime statistics show that many of the Teach for America alums go on to pursue a career that creatively, partially, if not fully touches upon the issues of educational and school reforms. Many of them take the lessons that they've learned from the program to their heart - for many of those are lessons of sheer, cruel reality that one simply can't forget once having experienced them - and really allow them to transform their mindset about society and views on the lives of the underprivileged and transform their actions into ones dedicated to the serving of the underserved.

So in a way, Teach for America has achieved one of its two major goals - to raise up future generation of leaders who would seek to improve and transform the current educational system for the better - despite the fact that they continue to have trouble retaining young graduates from high-profile universities for lifelong services.

It's just like taking upon a missions trip or committing oneself to a short-term missions or peace corps or whichever kind of NGO/relief services commitment that ranges from a year to two to three for the freshly graduated young adults (before they dive right back to law school or MBA or what not). Whereas most of them don't turn out to be full-time missionaries or lifelong peace corps members, they continue to be missionaries/NGO workers/ in mind and in spirit , seeking to make an impact - hopefully in some level a greater one - wherever they are or whatever job post they occupy.

Lately snapshots of my fresh, post-graduate days in China sneak in and out of my consciousness, and almost every other few days I get this little itchy nudge in my heart or somewhere deep down in my body, reminding me the presence of those memories. I find myself wanting to long for more for those days yet constantly holding myself back with relishing the good days in the meantime. It's as if I'm standing right by the edge of a deep, wide valley with a sense of insurmountable fear yet excitement at the same time shaking my whole body around. If I look ahead, a simple spring over the valley doesn't seem all that impossible, and once over, it's all (at least it seems like) green pasture awaiting me to embrace. Yet if I look down, the impenetrable darkness extends its shadows over me, seemingly about to snatch me away, deep deep down into that dark void in which the bottom cannot be seen.

At the end of the day, perhaps the green pasture across the valley isn't all that green as it seems, and the darkness right underneath my feet isn't necessarily a bottomless void. However, the worse thing would be trying to take a leap across the valley yet with half-hearted effort that I end up losing the momentum and tumbling down the valley in the most bitter, ugly manner.

That, would be the worse nightmare yet to come.

"Relentless pursuit." A title that excites yet frightens me at the same time.

But relentless it has to be.

梅ちゃん at 1:04:00 AM



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