Finding Home in a Place Unknown

Every person on Earth should spend three weeks teaching high school students as a rite of passage. The experience has me rethinking my entire existence.


It has been difficult to find time for writing. Being present during the program is an important pillar of Putney Student Travel. Drafts upon drafts have sat dormant; each opportunity to sit at my desk and chronicle my experiences is a missed opportunity to create new ones.

There's so much that will go unsaid on these pages as I try to recapture the "Putney Magic" as its called. Even now, as I rack my brain for something to write, it's overwhelming. Where to start? Every story is a rabbit hole with no bottom in sight.

Seven weeks I've been here. We've had two sessions of students, each for three weeks, plus a staff orientation the week leading up to the start of the program. It's the longest I've been away from home. Ever. Seems unlikely, I know.

It didn't take long for me to get acclimated. Danielle, one of my fellow teachers, picked me up from the airport in one of the infamous PCAM (Pre-College Amherst) rental vans for the hour drive back to campus. The only people I had been in communication with prior to that Sunday were the directors, Jenny and Kelly. When I arrived, they gave me my room key and sent me off to get acquainted with the dorm. Five minutes later, before I could even unzip my duffel, there was a knock on my door. Startled, I slowly opened it to find Spencer with his overalls, circular frames, burly mustache, and old baseball cap standing in the doorway. He offered to be my date for lunch at Valentine cafeteria. In the grand scheme of things, it sounds like a small gesture of kindness, but it set the tone for the next 50 days that I would be away from everything and everyone that I knew. Any fears I had about fitting in were vanquished by my knight in shining vintage.

From that moment on, those 10 strangers quickly became some of my closest and dearest companions.