Coming home from college is always an exercise in patience. Every neighbor, relative and family friend asks the same well-meaning questions–so, how is school? Do you like your roommate? What about your professors? Now that I’m home for several months after finishing up my freshman year, everyone wants to know what I’m doing this summer. “I’m working with a program called Breakthrough,” I respond for what seems like the fiftieth time. “I’ll be teaching eighth-grade writing.” If people want to know more, they usually hit on my deepest insecurities in a matter of seconds. “So you’ll be teaching by yourSELF?” they ask. “Every day, all summer? That sounds so…intense.” I can’t argue with them–my friends who have taught with Breakthrough in past years have made sure I’m aware of how much work the program demands, the long hours in the classroom, the nights spent grading papers and going over lesson plans. Despite the fact that I sometimes worry I won’t be able to handle it, there’s one moment I can’t wait for. I want to see the students I’ll be teaching, watch them walk into the classroom and take their seats. Maybe they’ll be laughing, joking with each other, already friends. Maybe there will be a quiet one, a boy who sits at his desk rearranging his pencils, not looking up at the other students just yet. This moment will be the shift, I can tell–seeing their confident or apprehensive faces will make all of this real. From that point forward, I have no real expectations about the summer, except that like with any other experience, some parts will be better than others. All I really have are hopes. I hope for moments of triumph, the ones I imagine make being a teacher worthwhile– moments when a student understands a concept well enough to explain it to a classmate or feels comfortable enough to stand up and speak in front of the class. And when I get back to school in the fall and the question of the hour is “So how was your summer?” I hope to be able to say I taught and I learned and it was amazing.