We at Teach For America are trying to build a movement of leaders committed to ending educational inequality in the United States. To do this, for the past 20 years, we have recruited, trained, and supported recent college graduates of all academic majors to teach for two years in public schools in low-income communities across the country. We believe that, as a result of working to catch our students up, our corps members will gain the added conviction, commitment, and insight to spend their careers addressing the myriad reasons why the achievement gap between students from low- and high-income backgrounds exists.
REALITY represents the first major program in recent memory to enable our corps members to deeply reflect for an extended period of time about their experiences in the classroom, what it makes them think about root causes of inequity, and what they wish to do with their lives. Reflection is a critical part of making meaning, and doing so in an immersive social setting, with peers who have had similar trials, while being exposed to impressive role models, has stirred the pot for participants in unprecedented ways.
Israel was an ideal setting for this reflection. A country that also wrestles to achieve its ideals of equality, Israel serves as a helpful mirror for the challenges we face in America. Combine that with the nationís incredible entrepreneurial spirit and, in particular, impressive cadre of young social-justice-minded movers and shakers, and you have a great training ground for leadership. Of course, it is also a deeply spiritual place where one can consider oneís values in the midst of ancient sites and stories.
At our last internal executive director conference, we saw a swell of excitement about expanding such opportunities to other corps members, and we are now considering domestic versions of the REALITY trip. Why the interest? We have never before seen a survey where 100 percent of participants at a Teach For America event strongly agree that they would recommend it to a friend. This journey clearly led people to feel more attuned to their own talents and interests, and more connected to our organization, which we believe will lead to a stronger movement of people leveraging one another to make the changes we must enact in our country.