“valley of the world…” ~ Steinbeck

 February 22, 2015.

I have just returned from attending an education conference in the South Bay, specifically San Jose. I presented strategies on creating space for learners to figure out what is thinking before they can do anything else, especially writing, and writing about reading, and how the mere act of writing leads to thinking. In the digital pollution of trends and hypes, I am so grateful for such a wonderful turnout of dedicated, passionate educators who trusted that I had something valuable to share. I am creating—or rather Vusi will be—a separate website for all that (of course I will reference what’s posted there here too, but only occasionally since this space is not an “education blog” per se, although it can and shall be whatever I want, whenever).

In some ways it was a very disappointing conference because I came across “educator celebrities” and there is no alternative voice challenging their “wisdom”, or rather, engaging (yes, that is a better word) engaging with their conclusions. The greatest educators question, especially themselves. I am not sure when educators began vying for stardom. It’s sad given this is a profession of service and this state, like many others, and essentially our country, really needs critical thinkers right now to ask better questions even if there are no easy answers. That being said I also happened to meet some phenomenal educators in attendance for whom teaching is indeed a calling, not just a job. There were also authors present, authors whose works were new to me so it was nice to hear them speak. Of all of them, I really enjoyed listening to author Cristina Garcia. Later I asked her where I could find her essay on exile and she said she wasn’t sure it was published. She was generous enough to offer mailing me a copy. I saved her the hassle and ran around the hotel lobby looking for a copying machine and copied it. I will definitely be writing about exile on a later date and sharing an excerpt from her essay.

There is too much to say about all that on a Sunday evening, especially a Sunday evening where it is raining so hard that the rain drops are diving pellets, a welcome-kind of rain. I can almost hear the earth exhale upon being nourished.

Another two very full weeks ahead. It’s finally beginning to feel like a new year.

On my drive back, I pulled over on Pacheco Pass near the garlic smelling town of Gilroy because I couldn’t resist staring at these hills a little longer. Immediately I was reminded of Steinbeck’s letter (I have shared this exact quote before even but today I felt it, really felt the words rest inside of me), although he was not speaking of this specific location:

“I think I would like to write the story of this whole valley, of all the little towns and all the farms and the ranches in the wilder hills. I can see how I would like to do it so that it would be the valley of the world.” Steinbeck’s letter to George Albee, Salinas, 1933


Today, for the first time since I have been in California, I had a moment, a tiny moment, where I could see “valley of the world” as I drove by. I wanted to hold on to that moment so I took these photos.