Natalia Torres, F'05
CITYterm - Fall 2005
Hotchkiss School - 2007
Yale University - 2011
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.M - 2016
When I reflect on my return to Hotchkiss after CITYterm, there is one memory that always stands out. My school had recently revived sit down lunches with assigned seating and I was sitting at one of the round, wooden tables in our dining room waiting for the other students to get their food. I don't quite know what my face must have looked like, but, after my English teacher took her seat, she looked across the table at me and asked, "How far from CITYterm do you feel right now?" and all I could say was, "Far."
In the days and weeks after I returned from CITYterm, as I walked around a campus, which, besides the snow, hadn't changed much since I'd last seen it, it was clear that something else had: me. CITYterm changed me, and I don't say that lightly. I returned to Hotchkiss a different student and a different girl. I carried myself differently. I was more confident and more curious. I was more...me.
Last year I pursued my master’s in education, and, besides CITYterm, it was the most transformational experience I’ve had to date. My classroom experiences were often exceptional, but it was my work outside the classroom that energized me most. Outside of the classroom, two of my classmates and I organized our peers in an effort to push the administration to advance their work around racial justice and educational equity, as well as their commitment to educating and graduating anti-racist educators. In doing this work, it became clear to me that wherever my next steps led me, it would need to be somewhere committed to anti-racism and social justice.
In August, I began working at the DreamYard Project, a nonprofit in the Bronx that provides arts education to Bronx public schools and to the local community using social justice pedagogy. Though I haven't worked there long, I have been consistently impressed by DreamYard's commitment to growing as an anti-racist organization and by the strength of its culture and sense of community. I am regularly humbled by the passion, energy, thoughtfulness, and love that everyone brings to the work and shares with each other on a daily basis. I feel incredibly lucky to work for an organization where I have room to grow and room to fail, where my curiosity and growth are valued and encouraged, and where teamwork and reflection are par for the course. If you asked me how far I feel from CITYterm now, I’d say not far at all.