Hello, Ithaca

Welcome to Chapter IV of my blog! It’s been a long road back and forth across the Atlantic, from Nice to R-MC, Laon, DC, and finally, Ithaca. Confused, clueless little me running off to study abroad would have never guessed that I’d do TAPIF, become an overworked City Year, or pursue a PhD.

Am I excited? Hell yeah. Being able to study whatever I want instead of being forced to take required, 100-level classes that I skated through with minimal effort is everything my nerd self in college could have ever wanted. Just look at the classes I want to take in the fall: The Future of Whiteness! Revolution, Sexuality, and Empire in Modern French Fictions! Montaigne and Skepticism! Sociology of Sex and Gender!

Am I nervous? Obviously. It’s been two years since I’ve been in school, and how I’ve survived all that time without writing an academic essay (my favorite part of school) is a mystery. My French is rather rusty after a year in DC with no opportunity to use it, but hopefully it’ll all come flooding back.

And here I am, sitting in my cozy studio in Ithaca, in one piece after Saturday’s 7 hour drive. I kicked out—er, dropped off—my parents at the airport yesterday after days of buying necessities and sightseeing, and survived the steeply uphill walk to campus this morning. (I’ll have legs of steel by the end of the year. I suppose Laon, aka la montagne couronnée, was trying to prepare me for the mountain life.) Nonetheless, the walk was ridiculously scenic, winding above Ithaca Falls and Fall Creek Gorge and through a campus that I still can’t believe is real.


The Romance Studies assistant informed me that there’s an enormous entering cohort of five students, all Spanish except for me. The hazards of going into French, I suppose, although my new status as a grad student didn’t hit me until I was standing in the middle of The Cornell Store, of all places. Nothing says you’re a student like overpriced university logos shoved in front of your face. (At least there, surrounded by terrifying price tags, I can always blame almost crying on capitalism.)

P.S. My landlady and her husband are so nice. Last night they invited me over for a delicious dinner, and then today she gave me locally grown lettuce and he gave me a mini history lesson wherein white feminists like Susan B. Anthony were inspired by Seneca women. Thanks, white male history, for erasing the contributions of WOC.



TAPIF vs. City Year

Now that I’ve moved out from my apartment in my gifted Cornell shirt, finding it only fitting that I wear my symbol of my future life as I left behind my City Year one, I’ve had time to reflect on the major differences between TAPIF and City Year.


  • By the end of the year, aside from the students in my biweekly conversation classes at Claudel, I barely knew any names. But at Ketcham, since I saw the students every day, I knew all 48 of my 2nd graders and an assortment of kindergartners to 5th graders.
  • Because I saw the students at Méchain or Claudel so infrequently, I didn’t really get to know them. On the other hand, I’ve watched so many of my 2nd graders grow—emotionally and academically—and it’s amazing to see how much they can change in a year. My favorite example is a kid who went from being unable to read at the beginning of the year to a wise old soul who dished out life advice: “It comes to a moment when everybody have to start a new life and that started with you.”
  • Children do not hold back the affection or their unadulterated love—they all but throw themselves onto me, though I love it when they randomly give me hugs. (Except then they pick me up. That’s horrifying. No child should ever have that much power over me.)
  • Working with high schoolers was great because I could discuss topics such as feminism and immigration without mincing any words—especially for the fluent terminales, who were basically adults. With elementary schoolers, you have to think about how to adapt such subjects so that they’re clear and comprehensible for children. There really isn’t any difference in students’ spelling abilities, though, regardless of whether they’re secondes (15-16 year olds) or 2nd graders.
  • The fights. Why were there so many in my grade? At least I remained bruise-free in France.
  • A 12-hour work week sounds like a dream come true, but I actually hated it. There was too much free time on my hands, and I felt so unproductive. Sure, 50 hours per week is a lot, but the days went by so quickly in CY because we were doing so much. In fact, weirdly enough, I think I was actually doing more work for TAPIF outside of the classroom than for City Year.
  • Being the only older-than-high-schoolers, younger-than-teachers person around was sometimes lonely. Regardless of how welcoming teachers like Nico were, nobody aside from other assistants understood the TAPIF struggles. At Ketcham, I loved being on a team and having a 2nd grade buddy—everyone understood what you were going through, especially in afterschool. Hardship truly does bring people closer.
  • Sometimes teachers in France gave me specific topics to talk about—or, on some fortuitous occasions, a few guidelines. But otherwise, I crafted my own lesson plans and PowerPoints. In the classroom at Ketcham, my partner teacher let me know what to teach in rotations and showed me the worksheets, but gave me the freedom to choose how I wanted to go about doing so. For afterschool, although each week was assigned a theme, we created the lesson plans from scratch.
  • My partner teacher was wonderful, and I’m so grateful that I got placed in her classroom. It’s so much smoother, working with one teacher versus fourteen. Also, the work environment was almost entirely POC and WOC, which was beyond refreshing.
  • Laon made me so pale. I do not miss the endless fog. In Maryland and DC, there was so much sun. I have acquired the most ridiculous watch and ring tans.
  • Boulangeries do not live on every street corner in America. I will never find a simple, delicious 2.80€ sandwich poulet. I have resigned myself to this dolorous fate. The sandwiches in America are expensive lies.
  • I miss those 8 weeks of paid vacation and being able to take spontaneous trips to Paris or book $40 flights to Copenhagen. Sure, Silver Spring actually has a downtown, but America will never live up to the standards of convenient transportation.
  • I still curse the DC metro even though I’ll never have to use it again. It’s trash compared to France’s and the rest of Europe’s. Is a functional, affordable, reliable metro really too much to ask for?
  • Other than the view, I don’t miss the living-on-a-mountain life. It was so nice to be able to walk to Giant for groceries and not have to pay for the bus. I do, however, miss the 5-minute walk to Claudel and the 20-minute bus ride to Méchain…if only I’d lived that close to Ketcham. And the view in Laon, I can’t forget that part, even if I could see the Capitol and the Washington Monument from my second-floor classroom.
  • TAPIF ended without a bang. No one showed up to my last class; I said bye to the other three assistants in Laon; and though the Claudel teachers threw me a party, I didn’t really get emotional. On the other hand, with City Year, several kids were on the verge of tears; I graduated and partied with my team; and I cried in an Uber. When I went back to visit Ketcham for the final time, so many kids screamed. I’ve never been mobbed by so many children, despite not having the arm to hug them all.


Here’s my team, my manager, my partner teacher, and the 1st grade ELA teacher! (No, I don’t know why we all look so orange.)

Things Kids Say, Pt. VIII

Somehow, ten months have passed, and I have two days left with a bunch of ridiculous, brilliant, hilarious, and adorable second graders.

  • While hugging me, L serenaded me with “Won’t you stay with me / Because you’re all I need.”
  • S: “I would live in Mexico because they have a lot of tacos.”
  • Drama king, curled up at the top of the slide on the hottest day of afterschool: “I’m dying, I’m dying from the heat. Shame on you, I see you laughing at me.”
    • He’s also developed the habit of calling me a nerd because I wear glasses. (Oh no! He’s seen my true colors.)
    • During one whole recess, he did nothing but say, “I’m going to take a leak.”
  • T, a child who’s literally in love with me: “I’m dumb, I’m bad at math.”
    • Me: “No you’re not! I’m bad at math, am I dumb?”
    • T: “You’re bad at math? We’re twins!” *hugs me* “Don’t ever leave me!”
  • Many of our kids misspelled “thought” as “thot” on their practice spelling tests, and Ms. K and I were deeply amused.
  • A: “I married you because you’re full of hope sosososo much hope.”
  • N: “I want to be an old lady.”
    • Me: “Why?”
    • N: “Because they get to do whatever that want.”
  • I was working on similes during small group tutoring, and when I put down the simile “as busy as…” on the table, C said, “As busy as every president but Donald Trump.” She’s so savage. I love her. (Yes, even though she calls me Wiggy. The girl will never be convinced that my hair is real.)
  • T: “How do you say ‘marry me’ in French?”
    • Me: “Mariez-moi.”
    • Him: “Mariez-moi! Mariez-moi!” Why are my kids obsessed with marrying me? They’re in 2nd grade. I worry.
  • A, at recess: looks at me, and then (lightly) punches me in the stomach, saying, “I’m going to kill your baby.” She’s so weird.
  • N: “Can you buy me a dead body?”
    • Me: “No! You can’t sell dead bodies.”
    • Her: “But I want to make a mummy. Don’t make me go to a cemetery and dig up a grave.”
    • Me and Ms K: “N, that’s illegal. You can go to jail for exhuming a body.”
  • I died laughing at O, the space cadet, because he was excitedly showing me a comic. Turns out that, in his excitement, he forgot to zip his backpack, and it was hanging upside down on his arm, all his belongings falling out in a trail that led from the cafeteria to the stairwell.
  • Me, looking at N’s paper: “You need a topic sentence.”
    • N, looking up at me: “You’re horrible!”

Petit écoliers, grad school, and lavender

While literally crying over the first petit écolier I’ve eaten since leaving France, I realized that I never posted my grad school decision here. So after five acceptances, three campus visits, multiple conversations with brilliant students and professors, countless discussions of French and feminism, and endless days of agonizing between my top two choices, I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be attending Cornell’s PhD program in French literature this fall! Their French department is small and diverse, and actually part of the Romance Studies one, which offers me plenty of interdisciplinary options. I can’t wait to see what Ithaca holds in store for me for the next five to seven years!


I also adopted this lavender child from the farmers market! She reminds me of my time in Nice, and I have named her Maëlie.

Things Kids Say, Pt. VII

I can’t believe I only have a month left with my munchkins. It’s not enough, and I will miss them dearly.

  • One of our most dramatic children, after pretending to cut his throat, collapsed forward onto the cafeteria table and then announced, “Bye, I’m going to heaven.”
    • I carried the breakfast bags to the table, and little drama king tried to take the bag with ~40 pears and cartons of milk from me. I asked, “Are you sure you can carry it? It’s really heavy.” He replied, “No it’s not heavy. I’m strong.” He tried to pick it up, failed, and then fell to the ground in defeat.
    • Collage materials in hand, I started to introduce the afterschool lesson to him by saying, “It’s Women’s History Month—”
      • He made a loud noise of distress, shoved his construction paper across the table, stood up while shouting, “I hate women!” and then stomped to a corner to sulk. (Fear not, I got him to change his prepubescent misogynistic inclinations.)
    • He spent a morning proclaiming, “I wasn’t a chubby baby!” because his older sister said that he was a baby who had the chubbiest cheeks and cried over everything, and my partner teacher gave him this look and said, “You’re still a chubby baby.”
  • T came up to me and asked, “Can I do my work? I want to go to third grade.” My little egg, you won’t be held back, but of course you can do your work.
  • H tried to pull my ring off my index finger, proclaiming, “I want to break your engagement.” Boy, it’s a dinosaur fidget spinner ring, and it’s not even on the right finger.
    • A day or so later, he insisted that I needed a boyfriend, and when I asked him why, he said, “To protect you.” I told him that I could protect myself and then asked him again what I would ever need a boyfriend for, and he had no response. Feminism lesson completed.
  • My little space cadet fell asleep in two assemblies. I don’t get how. It was so loud, but apparently he equates assemblies to nap time.
    • I witnessed him do the most wholesome thing: after he saw a 1st grader sitting on the stairs, sadly rubbing her foot, he took her boot and tried to put it back on.
  • When one of my kids told me that she wanted to see the president, I looked at her in horror. “But he’s a terrible person!” I exclaimed, to which she replied, “I want to see him so I can kick him in the butt.” Okay, I’ll accept that.
    • A day later: “I’m going to meet the president and then smash his face and put it up my nose and then snort him out.” Well, she’s certainly ambitious, and I won’t be stopping her.
  • The same child who’s been trying to marry me since the beginning of the year: “Ms. Sarena, I’m going to marry you.”
    • Me: “Okay, but it’s not official until you give me a ring.”
    • Her: -walks to her backpack, rummages until she unearths a ring, comes back to me-
    • Me, not expecting her to have a ring: *…well guess I can’t put it off any longer* (The saddest part about her ring is that, even though it was clearly made for a child and is bent, which makes it smaller, it’s still too big for my ring finger. Welcome to my life of child-sized hands.)
  • One of my faves was mad that I told all the afterschool kids to go inside, and his 4th grade brother noticed his angry face. He came over to ask why T was mad, and when I explained why, he went, “He’ll get over it” and walked away.
  • Second grader insults: “You’re saying everyone’s ugly but look at that top bun!”
    “Well you’ve got worms on your head!”
  • J accidentally called me Mommy, clapped his hand over his mouth, and tried to cover by saying, “No, I said ‘blobby!’”
  • One of my third graders in afterschool purposely fell on the floor and then, while laying on his back, started singing, “Hello darkness my old friend.”

Also, check out various expressions of love from my children, ranging from wholesome cards to a zombie story where I poop myself:


UMich Visit

After returning to work for a grand total of one day, I ran away from DC again to explore Ann Arbor. The campus visit was packed into two days, though at least I arrived Sunday afternoon (the 11th) and got some time to myself.

Upon landing in Detroit, I watched in horror as the taxi meter climbed to unfathomable numbers unsupported by an AmeriCorps stipend. As we approached the inn on campus, I stared, eyes wide, at how big and imposing all the buildings were. Some worker took pity on me inside the campus building, because the pure confusion I was feeling must’ve been written across my face—I assumed the inn would consist of, you know, one building, but instead it was located on the fourth floor.

Once I settled in, a current French student met me outside and took me on a tour of the campus and the town before leaving me to my own devices. I managed not to get lost as I wandered the busy streets and then made my way back to the inn to meet up with another prospective French student, A, and his partner. The three of us headed over to an Irish pub/restaurant for dinner, where, while we had a lovely dinner conversation, I yearned for the week I’d spent in Ireland. (Galway and Dublin were just too pretty.)

On Monday, I reluctantly forced myself out of the king-sized bed and proceeded to get lost in the Modern Languages building, but made it to breakfast early. The other 9 prospective students (3 French, 7 Spanish) slowly trickled in, and the graduate chair and graduate assistant held an informal Q&A session. Next on the schedule was a graduate teaching session, followed by a library tour (can I live there?), and then lunch with faculty and students.


I met so many people that I promptly forgot most of their names, oops. One of them took A and me to a local café for some delicious tea, and after I met with a professor, a bunch of prospective and current students sat and talked in a restaurant before heading over to the graduate chair’s house for dinner and a “party,” or endless social interaction that lasted until way past my bedtime…even though I left early before I fell asleep in my chair.

Tuesday was rather uneventful because I had to leave early in order to make it back to DC at an unreasonable time. A good chunk of us were probably half-asleep at breakfast, though at least some of us got an hour-long break to fight the urge to fall asleep. Current students came into the commons room to talk to us about housing and student life, and then we were supposed to go to lunch in small groups, but that plan fell apart and I went on a grocery store venture so that I could use my food stamps. #CityYearlife. A final meeting with a professor wrapped up my time at Michigan, because then I had to run out of his office to catch my taxi and get to the airport.


Everyone at my three campus visits has been so incredibly kind, I’m already dreading having to tell schools no. I’ve loved talking to all the professors, students, and graduate assistants that I’ve met, and having to decline their acceptances will crush a small part of me.

Cornell Visit

For the last two days, I’ve been learning everything there possibly is to know about Cornell’s French department. The graduate field assistant, professors, and current students have showered us in kindness and pampered us 8 prospective students (three French, five Spanish) with a free hotel room, endless amounts of food (pains au chocolat, éclairs, cheese, Thai food, and sushi), and other free items (a lanyard, folder, screen cleaner, three-day bus pass, and an issue of a feminist criticism magazine).

On Tuesday, I awoke at the wonderful hour of 4:30 to take the metro to the DC airport and my flights to Newark and Ithaca. As soon as the bus reached campus and I found the graduate field assistant’s office, lo and behold, the 18th century and feminist theory professor I was supposed to meet with showed up and took me to lunch.


Yep, this café is inside the Romance Studies building. How ridiculously extra is that? Anyways, it’s a small world, because the professor was born in Laon and got her PhD at the Université de Nice, two French cities where I’ve spent a year of my life.

The free hotel shuttle them took me from the campus to the Hotel Ithaca, where I finally got to meet my hotel roommate, a fellow queer WOC French nerd. The hotel is the fanciest place I’ve ever stayed in, and I didn’t even pay money for that queen-sized bed with five pillows and a glorious view of a Sunoco gas station.

After a couple of hours, A and I unglued ourselves from the luxurious beds and headed over to campus for a creative writing seminar among the Romance Studies students. (Yes, this department is incredibly interdisciplinary.) We later headed downtown to dinner with a majority of the current grad students, where we got delicious pizza and I, through a series of unfortunate events, got a bruise on my butt. The four French students there had nothing but positive things to say about Cornell (including “Cornell’s so gay”), and they have such varied research interests. After two hours, a current student kindly drove us back to the hotel, where A and I immediately passed out.


Tuesday morning began with breakfast, where I gasped at the sight of mini pains au chocolat, and we got to meet more faculty and current students before embarking on a library tour. The main library is incredible, there are 7 floors and 8 million books (and there was an exhibition in witchcraft that included manuscripts in old French!); the second library has a room that I want to live in forever.

After I fawned over the libraries, the department fed us Thai food for lunch—the way to my heart—and I had so many wonderful conversations, notably ones about feminism and Black Panther.

I then met with another professor, who took me on a walk to see one of Ithaca’s famous apple vending machines and gorges. Unfortunately, I had to leave behind this pure, wholesome man and rush to a graduate class afterwards, which was…strange because, since the graduate departments here are so interdisciplinary, the class was cross-listed with French and taught entirely in English.

But the reception for prospective students took over my confusion, because I’ve never seen the Romance Studies lounge so full of Spanish, French, and Italian professors and students—and the food! Wine, cheese, éclairs, cannolis, fruit,  charcuterie, and five huge trays of sushi. Who needs dinner after all that food? A and I returned to the hotel after two hours of chatting with professors and students, and then somehow stayed up until 11 discussing Cornell and our grad school choices, among other topics, and spent at least twenty minutes refusing to believe that one of the professors is in his 40s. Also, I will say that, damn, this department is incredibly queer.


This morning, three Spanish students met us in the hotel lobby and took us to a delicious breakfast at Café DeWitt, and then I had a wonderful meeting with a professor during which we agreed that gender shouldn’t exist. Finally, I had a tiny bit of free time before I had to catch the bus to the airport, so I wandered the campus. My emotional moment happened as I was walking toward this beautiful view and had to stop and stand there and wonder about how much I’d regret it if I turned down Cornell.


And now I’m sitting here in Ithaca, stuck on the plane that was supposed to have departed an hour and forty minutes ago, munching on leftover baguette from breakfast.

UVA Open House

At last, a post related to my Francophile life! I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but I’ve applied to seven PhD programs in French. So far, Cornell, UMich, and LSU have accepted me; UConn has accepted me but only for their MA; Penn State has taken the silent approach after their interview; Columbia interviewed and then rejected me; and UVA is up in the air. Hence why I spent two days at their Graduate Open House.

At the end of January, UVA informed me that I was part of a small group of applicants invited to visit the campus. No pressure at all there. So Wednesday evening, I excitedly took a train from DC to Richmond (while bemoaning Amtrak’s lack of punctuality and missing SNCF), and then drove to Charlottesville Thursday morning.

After expertly getting lost, I managed to find New Cabell Hall and check in to a lunch with faculty, current grad students, and the six other prospective students. Curiously enough, only two of us didn’t have MAs (yes, including me), and some of the older applicants were married, had children, or were born in the 80s, all of which were bizarre concepts for lowly 23-year-old me.

After a long stretch of free time during which I explored the surprisingly small campus, I had a meeting with one of my former French professor’s advisors, and was called her academic granddaughter. The meeting went way overtime so I showed up to another one horribly late (oops), and then we sat in on a graduate course. Although the discussion-style class was different than anything I’d ever had at R-MC (where I awkwardly tried not to be the only one talking senior year) and I had no idea what was going on because I’d never read the Corneille text, it made me realize how much I miss academia.


The last event of the day was dinner with current and prospective students, and at the restaurant, the grad students spilled everything—all positive things, though, which bodes well. I’m very jealous of how close-knit the community was in comparison to my undergrad, and then all other coherent thought ceased because it was my 9:30pm bedtime. (City Year changes you.)

On Friday, we attended a presentation on teaching French in the department, and then we had lunch at the Maison Française with grad students and more professors. This time, they fed us Créole and Haïtian food and I nearly wept with joy. Also, apparently I’m famous for being my French prof’s student? The benefits of nepotism, I guess.

After food utopia, we observed an undergrad class taught by a grad student, and I watched in a mixture of amazement and horror as the TA led a perfect class—my eyes reached “I’ll have to do that one day?” size. A tour of libraries and the Rotunda wrapped up our time at UVA, and I love that I got to see and learn about so much of the department. Cordiality! A community and culture! French books! Not a single con that I can think of (aside from Richard Spencer, I guess).


Anyways, I’ll have to see what I think of Cornell and UMich when I visit them. If I like all three of the schools, well, I suppose I’ll have to lie down and cry about the life-changing decision that will affect the rest of my future. Or go the Hermione route and illegally appropriate a Time Turner so that I can attend more than one school.

You know you’ve been in France too long when…

  • You buy an almond croissant at the farmers market, get a weird look from the guy because you pronounce “croissant” the proper French way, and then almost weep tears of joy at the first bite because the croissant tastes like it actually came from France
  • Someone walks past and says, “See? This is why we need to live in France…” and you instantly whip around and whisper, “Hit me up”
  • At Lidl, you decide that the mini 29-cent pains au chocolat look legit, so you grab two of them for breakfast. The next day, still wary of being disappointed, you take a bite and then proceed to cry over how buttery and flaky they are
  • You start making strangled noises because you’re stuck at a conference and there’s a Paul taunting you across the street. I just wanted a French pastry, dammit. And then your group made things worse by saying that the Paul looked too bougie and went straight to Starbucks instead. Um, excuse you? Starbucks will never be superior.
  • Some of your teammates and you stumble upon a Christmas Market in DC, and though it delights you to no end, the white tents look wrong. Where are the little red or brown wooden cabins that you find in Europe?
  • The Silver Spring library sign says that they offer bilingual French and English story time, but you realize with great sadness that you won’t pass for a 2-5 year old. Maybe you should take your friend’s advice and borrow a child…
  • One day, the clouds are strangely formed to look like a mountain, and you realize that you actually miss tiny Laon
  • The morning commute to work takes you past several murals on the sides of buildings, and you feel a sudden intense nostalgia for Lyon and its fresques
  • Someone at the metro says, “Are you going to L’Efant?” and you want to scream at them and tell them it’s L’ENFANT. THERE’S AN N IN THERE.
  • Your teammates mock you (lovingly) for being a snob who refuses to eat Costco croissants
  • Your team notices that almost all the art at iHop is strawberry-themed, but you realize that one piece of artwork is blue, white, and red, just like the French flag
  • Someone at Target is speaking French on the phone, and you have to remind yourself that it’s socially unacceptable to follow them no matter how much you miss French

Things Kids Say, Pt. VI

Despite having once been a child myself, I will honestly never understand why kids say half the things they do:

  • Student: “When did you dye your hair black?”
    • Me: “I never dyed it black! What do you think my natural hair color was?”
    • Her: “Dark brown, like that strip right there.”
    • Me: *tries desperately not to laugh because she’s talking about my bleached strip*
  • Me, teaching: “Does anyone know what an antonym is?”
    • Student: “Stop using these white words!”
    • Me: “Do I look white?”
  • It was a student’s birthday, and I heard he was going to Chuck-E-Cheese’s, so I asked him, “Who do you want to go?” He replied, “You!” and I told him I wish I could but had to get my eyes checked because City Years sadly aren’t allowed to interact with our students at non-school-sponsored events. His response? A gasp, followed by, “You have to get surgery?!?”
  • Me: “Can you give me a synonym for ‘scary’?”
    • Student: “White!”
    • Me: …oh.
  • P, after drawing a smiley face on my hand: “It has glasses because you have glasses!”8B1B27C2-3FB0-467D-8B1F-4108BF77C2C2
  • Student, after giving me her indecipherable drawing: “It’s a pregnant plum in a blanket!”
  • Zohar: “K, you’re beautiful.”
    • K: “I know.”
  • Zohar: “A, do you like girls or boys better?”
    • A: “Neither! I want to be a bird because they’re beautiful. And I want to eat a worm.”
  • A student who’s convinced I’m wearing a wig: “Don’t touch me, Wiggy.” During the past week, she has continued to refer to me as Wiggy and her favorite phrase is now, “Let’s go, Wiggy.” When I told her to pull on my hair to prove that it’s not a wig, she declared, “You sewed it onto your head.”
  • I told one of my favorite students he’s a nerd because he asked if he could do his homework instead of doing something fun in afterschool, and he went, “I’m not a nerd! I don’t have glasses! And my pants aren’t rolled up!” (He is a nerd though. He likes getting homework.)


  • A, after placing a piece of broken lollipop on my hand: “Will you marry me?”
    • She’s so weird. We watched Hidden Figures in afterschool for Fun Friday, and during a romantic dance scene, and she turned to me and exclaimed “Ms. Sarena, only City Years can watch this. Kids can’t watch it. I know what’s going to happen next. They’re going to go to a hotel—” and then I immediately shushed her because why does she know this???

She’s also gifted Zohar and me with artwork—including a devil rainbow—and seashells:


  • Several of my students, instead of giving me high fives with their hands, use their heads instead…?
  • Not a direct quote, but my one of students won the K-2 spelling bee and went on to compete in the 3-5 spelling bee, and then she came in 4th place. So proud of my little 2nd grader!