Jun 29 2008

ENC Pictures

You hear a lot in the TFA organization about “Why I teach for America.” Well, I thought I’d show you a little bit about where I teach for America. The Eastern North Carolina region of TFA stretches north from Durham all the way up the I-95 corridor to the Virginia border. I taught (and still teach) in the more rural, northern part of the region, so what follows is maybe somewhat of an extreme view of ENC.

All of the pictures on this post (and everywhere on this blog) are copyright protected, with all rights reserved to me, unless otherwise noted.

ENC has some absolutely beautiful features, not least of which are the several lakes in the region. During my first year of teaching this was my view every morning:

This is not such a shabby view either:

Even the surrounding countryside is beautiful in its way. A fellow CM took this picture on his way to work:

To a California girl, the small change in seasons is quite beautiful (although my roommates from the North were less than impressed)

Sometimes it even snows. This gave us a two hour delay one glorious January morning.

Most of our students, of course, do not live anywhere near the lake. Our students live here:


Or maybe here:


Or here:

Or here:


There are actually quite a few government subsidized housing “projects” around. They are not at all what I would have pictured.

They are small, but relatively well kept. A lot of the students from the school I taught at lived in projects similar to these.

I thought that ENC would be all rolling farmlands and trees, and god knows there is a lot of this:

and this:

and this:

But there is also a fair amount of what I have come to think of as small town urban decay.

For example:

© copyright Jean Davis Olecki. All rights reserved.

ENC used to have a fairly booming manufacturing and processing industry.  Now most of those companies (and jobs) have disappeared or gone elsewhere.

Those jobs have been replaced with this:

(I think this exact Strip Mall configuration exists in every rural ENC town).

And, of course, this:


If you were to drive around ENC, here are some things you would see.

I took this one while standing on the campus of my new school.  It is not an unusual sight.


Churches are everywhere out here. I swear that there is a church for about every two people. Because of this glut in the market, many houses of worship have turned to roadside humor as a draw.

My favorite remains, “Caution: Exposure to the Son May Prevent Burning!”


The sheer number of abandoned buildings out is staggering.  They are beautiful, in their own Miss Havisham kind of way, but I can’t help wondering about their history. Who owns them? Why just walk away and not look back?

© copyright Jean Davis Olecki. All rights reserved.

An old tobacco barn.
Copyright Jean Davis Olecki. All rights reserved.

One thing that surprised me when I moved out here were the mini roadside graveyards. It is not uncommon, when you are driving down a two lane road, to see three or four headstones (usually new looking) at the end of a dirt track under a tree.
I never really saw graves at home. I suppose that are politely hidden away behind fences and hedges, if they exist at all. Perhaps everyone in SoCal is conveniently cremated.
Most of the small towns out here date back quite a ways. Many of them still have echoes of the glamor of their turn of the century heydays with dramatic facades and brick towers

This is getting pretty long, but I still have a ton more pictures that I want to post so (lucky you!) I’m going to post a few more miscellaneous shots soon.
I trust that you enjoyed this little mini trip through ENC. It’s a region of many contrasts; I hope I showed that.

Part II

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