It's so hard for me to come up with the words to describe to extent to which I've been molded and inspired by these last two years. My Teach for America season has come to a close, and I've no more opportunities to enjoy spending my afternoons with these beautiful spirits. When I look at these heart-melting faces, I remember the things I learned from them, such as how to find joy in anything life throws your way, how to use your obstacles as stepping stones, how to love with abandon, and how that love can help you get out of bed and fulfill obligations on even the most difficult of days. I see Jesus in a lot of my students every day, and I know that God has loved me in a very tangible way through them. There is so much about Mississippi - Hazlehurst, the Delta, Byram, and otherwise - that will cling to me forever and that will always warm me like a glass of good wine.
As the buses drove away last week, and little hands and smiling faces waved and shouted from the windows, tears rolled not because I was sad they were losing me. I was sad because I can only hope and pray that I have left such a legacy with them and with Mississippi as all of it has left with me. I am leaving Mississippi with stronger convictions and deeper passions. I am leaving so that I can take Mississippi's story into other parts of the country and wait anxiously for a day when the rest of the world see and understand its beauty, grit, and power.