How the National Teacher of the Year Helped Me Realize I’m A Newbie

We’re all a newcomer at some point in our lives. Some people are at a new school or job, or are the new person at an event. No matter where we are in our new adventure, we all experience some of the same thoughts attached to being new: “I’m so nervous,” “What will they think of me?”, “I have to pee”, the list could go on. One of the cool things about being new is that there are plenty of newcomers and you won’t be the “new person” forever.

On Saturday, I had the privilege of joining National Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning, and a room full of unfamiliar Spokanites at the Downtown Library for the Newcomer Challenge. This was a workshop that not only reintroduced me to the value of sharing experiences through writing and how to make my words come to life, but it widened my perspective on all the colorful people that live in a somewhat monochromatic city and what it means to be new. Within the common ground of newness, I was reminded that our stories are vastly unique, our experiences are real, and that our voices are valuable.

I’ve only had a handful of teachers that really made an impact on my life. Although I only spent a couple of hours at her workshop and even less time at her TEDxSpokane presentation, I can say Mandy is one of those teachers. Her inspirational workshop brought out sides of me that I don’t share often, both in writing and my gender identity, or lack thereof. In this workshop, I found that being new is not only about being somewhere or doing something; it’s also about being someone. Thank you, Mandy, for helping me reveal a new layer of myself!

// REL