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Sunday, June 26, 2011


Okay, so here is the exciting news I've been hopelessly trying to inflate the importance of these past two days--I GOT A TEACHING JOB IN INDIANAPOLIS!

To clarify, I'm only in Mississippi for the Summer. I'm teaching 2nd grade language arts and math for just four weeks. This isn't my permanent location. I'll be moving back to my regional placement on July 16th.  My regional placement is Indianapolis, Indiana and that is where I'll be spending the next two years of my teaching life. But here is the more incredible part of my news...


Words can't depict how euphoric I am at the thought of this. This is precisely what I wanted to teach and I'll get my chance to do it. Originally, I got placed to teach elementary education but they always warned us that our initial placement was tentative. So, I interviewed over the phone with the assistant principal of John Marshall (how appropriate) High School and they decided to hire me just 20 minutes later. I expressed to him how passionate I was about politics, civil service, and social justice. I guess that's what they were looking for. But anyways, I'm inexplicably excited about this opportunity and can't wait to start posting tales from the Pnyx. That will be the name of my classroom. The Pnyx was the official meeting place of the Athenian Democratic Assembly in ancient Greece.

Anyways, I'll post something again soon.

With Unwavering Love,
Derik Ohanian

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Day of Delta Institute

Howdy (this is not a cultural norm I've picked up here, I'm just electing to be a tool),
I am proud--and exhausted--to say that the 2011 Delta Institute has officially been inaugurated. For those who are confused as to why I'm in Mississippi, allow me to explain: Teach For America operates on the "Teaching As Leadership" paradigm. I know you don't care for me to elaborate on this philosophy, so I won't, but I will synopsize the ultimate takeaway point the model bestows--student scholastic achievement is determined by the teacher. Anyways, Teach For America has placed Corps Members from several regions around the country in the Mississippi Delta for this training session. To give you an idea of what this looks like:

1.) Wake up at 5:15am every morning.
2.) Head to the dining commons to pickup breakfast and acquire a sack lunch for the rest of the day by 6:00am.
3.) Load up on the bus and travel to a school site situated 45 minutes away from our local residence by 6:10. In this case, we're staying at Delta State University
4.) Get to Wedding Elementary by 7:15am.
5.) Workshops from 8am-4pm with a lunch break tossed in between.
6.) Load up on the bus at 4:30pm and come back to Delta State by 5:30pm.

This will be my life for the next 30+ days. But I'm committed to this. I'm inexplicably excited and cannot wait to get into the classroom later next week to teach elementary math and language arts. More blog updates are sure to follow. I just wanted to present you with a succinct post to keep you satisfied until the next major update.

With Unwavering Love,
Derik Ohanian

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Travelin' Through the 'Dirty South'!

I'm inexplicably giddy right now. Why? I'M IN THE SOUTH!!!!! Okay, it may not be that big of a deal to you, but I'm eerily elated. It's so incredible here! It's everything I fantasized it to be and more.

Okay, now for the update: my friend Andrew Pillow, Randy Peaser, and I left Indianapolis this afternoon at 3pm to begin our caravan to Mississippi. We drove through Kentucky and stopped in Tennessee.  The whole excursion lasted around six hours. We passed by Louisville, Kentucky and I must say that I loved the sights  I encountered. Louisville seems like a pretty awesome college town. After a couple more hours from Louisville, we were in Nashville, Tennessee. THIS PLACE ROCKS! I kid you not! As soon as we got in, we stopped at a place called Monell's. Monell's is a family style Southern restaurant that serves without the customary guide of a menu. You sit down at a huge, dining-room style table with other patrons and the restaurant's servers bring out abundant portions of food in pots to the table. Then, you pass the pots around and share the delicious entree choices. I just have to say that the turnip greens and pulled pork bowls were my absolute favorite. Here is a new fact I just discovered:

Real Southern Food > Any other kind of food.

The Country Music Awards are also here this weekend and the city is abound with tourism, strum guitar enthusiasts, and attractive people. It's quite the exciting place to be. I'm strongly considering applying to Vanderbilt University at this point. That's how much I've become attracted to the locality. I wouldn't mind spending a few years studying here. Anyways...

We're spending tonight in Nashville but will leave for the Mississippi Delta tomorrow. I am definitely not looking forward to the heat and humidity I've heard so much about. As far as TFA logistics, I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but I do know that I'm stoked. I'll have an update for all of you sometime later this week. Wish me luck in the classroom!

With Unwavering Love,
Derik Ohanian

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Day of Induction and Missing California

So, I'm going to be blunt about it--I miss California. I miss the weather.  I miss the prodigality. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss home. I miss you. 

Back to why I'm here...

So for today, we officially started Induction. I woke up at 7:45am, took a shower, and met up with the rest of the Corps (50 people) for breakfast. After bagels and milk, we were underway. We began going over the mission statement of Teach For America and discussed its core values. Most of the day was really dedicated to workshops and teacher empowerment sessions. The ultimate thing I took away from today is: Underperforming students continue to underperform because their environment holds low expectations for them. If you hold equally high expectations for your entire class, these students will excel just as successfully as any other top performing student. By the way, we had lunch at Marian University's dining hall and two minutes into the session, a discussion about the relative morality of Female Genital Mutilation ensued. It was pretty random and yes...I instigated it. Oh and let me tell you something--THEY DON'T COMPOST DISCARDED FOOD AT MARIAN UNIVERSITY! As a Berkeley alumnus and frequent Crossroads consumer, I was appalled. Get it together, Marian. Get it together.

After induction (which lasted from 9am-5pm), we all went back to our dorms and changed into our "bar clothes". All fifty of us went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner in Downtown Indy and then went to a chain bar called "Howl At The Moon". Apparently they have a location in Hollywood. Anyhow, it was a pretty cool event because I got to meet a ton of people and there were two pianists taking music requests from the audience. I purchased my signature beverage--the Cadillac Margarita. Thanks for the introduction to that Mike Gevorgian.

So, I got back home about an hour ago. It's funny, I had trouble sleeping on the bunk bed last night because I kept on thinking I'd fall off the top bunk. But it dawned on me later on that I could just take the mattress off the bed frame and place it on the floor. Lo and behold, I'm sleeping on the floor tonight. I'm going to shoot for waking up at 6:15am tomorrow to go hit the gym. Tomorrow's another long day but then we get to go bowling at night. Let me just add that TFA covers EVERY cost. It's pretty sweet.

Alright my Loves, this concludes my blog entry for the day. I did interview at a school yesterday and the two principals seemed to really like me. I kept making them laugh and even through in a little self-aggrandizement. Gotta show my true colors, right?

With Unwavering Love,
Derik Ohanian

Monday, June 6, 2011

Landing in Indy

Hey y'all,
Good news, I've made it to Indianapolis in one piece. This morning, I departed from the Los Angeles International Airport at 12:00pm and landed in Chicago by 5:30pm (it's a three and a half hour flight but Chicago is two hours ahead). Once I got to Chicago's airport, which I must say is insanely big by the way, I hurried off to the next gate where I would meet the aircraft that would whisk me away to my new home. The plane took off around 6:15pm and after a half hour flight, I landed in Indianapolis at 7:45pm (Indianapolis is an Eastern Time zone). So yeah, I leapt 3 hours in one day--my sleep schedule is going to be so fucked.

Over here, I got picked up by a nice gent named Nathaniel Fleckenstein. He was gracious enough to take me to his home where other Teach For America corps members reside. I'm spending the night here and going to Marian University tomorrow where I'll be living in college style dorms for the week. I'm excited... -__-

As for Indianapolis, it's a pretty nice town. I'll post more pictures, but just try and envision this image in your head--it's very sloooowwww. I can't describe it comprehensibly. Things just feel like they're moving with slower gears. I don't know. I might just be tired. I hope jet lag doesn't make me miserable.

So yeah, that's my update for now. I have a job interview tomorrow with the Indianapolis Math and Science Academy for a potential teaching gig. I'll let you know if I get the job with another blog post tomorrow.

With Unwavering Love,
Derik Ohanian

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Inaugurating Post

Hey y'all!
As some of you know, yours truly is leaving sunny Los Angeles tomorrow morning for Indianapolis, Indiana. To confirm the rumors, yes I will be an elementary school teacher for the next couple of years. I haven't received a grade or school assignment yet but once that becomes available, y'all will be notified. As for why I'm doing this, it should be obvious if you know me. I'm passionate about public service and narrowing the gulf of opportunity between the privileged and underprivileged. This is one avenue where I can exercise that disposition.

As of right now, I'm feverishly packing. I don't know why I'm taking so many articles of clothing. I've literally stuffed fifteen dress shirts, seven ties, eight pairs of pants, two suits, a dozen t-shirts, dozens of socks and pairs of underwear, six pairs of shoes, belts, etc. into two regularly sized pieces of luggage. I've got all my favorite philosophy books with me as well. I really hope I won't have to pay for any "extra weight" fees. God dammit...

Teach For America--the program that I was accepted into--will be welcoming new Corps Members this week as part of the Induction segment. Though I'm not quite sure what the next five days will entail, I am certain that we will get better acquainted with the program and learn more about what is expected of us. I'll keep you posted.

On Saturday, June 11th, I will be carpooling down with other Corps Members to Cleveland, Mississippi. The kind folks at Delta State University have been gracious enough to host us for six weeks as we submit ourselves to the brutal and constructive "Institute". This is an intense training session where we will learn how to become better at the task we signed ourselves up for. But I'll be posting updates throughout this next month and a half so stay tuned.

For now, I want to say goodbye. Goodbye to my friends in Glendale/Los Angeles. Goodbye to my friends in the Bay. I love you all. And to my new friends in Indianapolis and Mississippi--I can't wait to meet you!

With Unwavering Love,
Derik Ohanian