from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Monday, August 14, 2006

a bunch of people from Albuquerque

I had put the first eight miles behind me when Bill Strickland answered my emails. He was friendly and greeted my intent to build one of his schools in Albuquerque. His staff contacted me afterwards, and suggested I bring over to Pittsburgh a group of people from our city, for us to understand what they are doing in their school and discuss how feasible a project in Albuquerque is.

It sounded, on the surface, simple enough. But…

Here I was, an immigrant, new to a city proud of its three-century old traditions, a claim the vast majority of American cities can not make. Here I was, knowing only a handful of people, mostly writers and wannabe writers, not politicians or money makers. Here I was, a lonely gringo (but not an Anglo even), supposed to break the barrier that divides me from the movers and shakers. I had to find a bunch of people, passionate about education and at the same time influential, connected, and powerful. I had to find them and persuade them to make an opening in their busy schedule to go with me to Pittsburgh, to view the palace of knowledge Bill Strickland opened for kids ready to drop out of conventional schools. Here I was, supposed to move mountains.

I viewed it as a test. I faced a dictatorial regime and machine gun fire in my country, and then the uncertainty of moving on my own to a new continent, but I had never been so scared in my life.

I am scared to even put this online.


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