"I hope I am," he said. "It's hard."
Smithwood is part of a bumper crop of Colby graduates that joined the Teach for America corps last year. Eleven members of the Class of 2006 made the two-year commitment to teach in schools in low-income communities"more than the previous three years combined, according to Ryan Weaver '07, a Teach For America campus campaign manager.
Those teachers, chosen from 33 applicants, are fanned out across the country, from New Mexico to Mississippi to Newark, N.J.
The increase is part of an overall boom in applications to Teach for America, with some 19,000 students asking to go into classrooms last year, triple the number in 2000. Teach for America officials cite September 11 and the New Orleans flood as catalysts for the outpouring of altruism among young people.
Smithwood, a government major and environmental studies minor from Massachusetts, said his teaching job has introduced him to Navajo culture, the Southwest"and to "the culture of poverty."
"[At Colby] I was very interested in environmental and social activism, things like that," he said, from Crown Point. "This was an excellent opportunity to do something that, every day, you weren't just debating or sending your congressman a letter. Every day you were working to make a difference."