The North Country has always been where I’ve lived, but it took longer than it should have for me to proudly call these mountains my home. I’ve always imagined something bigger and better. The city, maybe? Possibly not being bound by time and commitment? It would frustrate me to see so many admirable adults contentedly settled in a tiny mill-town that, for years, smelled of the paper industry’s success.

Then I reached high school.

Teachers promote clubs to freshman as if they get paid on commission. The first teacher who approached me was a first-year teacher. I remember her hawk-eyes focused in on me in the hallway, and I panicked because I thought she’d found out that I had told my classmates the unfortunate fate of Lennie. But even as a freshman, I knew it was rude to avoid eye contact, so she and I began a conversation. In the midst of it, this teacher convinced me to join Key Club. Through time with the club, I learned that she was local and had attended UNH, and after grad school had backpacked through Europe, volunteered through the Peace Corps, and taught in poverty-stricken China.

She was unique and her life interested me. However, I still couldn’t comprehend why she was here.

— Anonymous, Berlin High School