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Finding my own place in Rural Voices by Ken Martin

Written by Ken Martin
October 30, 2010

Transcript of Audio:

   It is the fall of 2000.  My school day begins at 7:30 a.m.  I teach Sophomore English at a 250 student high school on the coast of Maine, and I am my school’s permanent duty teacher for  morning Cafeteria.  Day-after-day, 175 days, in all seasons, I witness the ritual of students flocking to school.

    As constant as the sun, Daniel is already there, under a window in the farthest corner, hunched over a tech magazine, headphones over his ears, nodding away to classic rock.  On the steps leading to a small stage, Coby sits with his guitar and plays along with a White Stripes CD.  Single students, and twos and threes wander in until 8:45 when the first busload arrives and the entire scene is transformed.

    Groups form and reform as students catch up on events of the last seventeen hours—who’s now a couple, who isn’t, who’s in trouble.  The volume rises and falls, punctuated by laughter and various adolescent squeals.  A few of the more studious types gather at a table near the door and discuss homework.  Others have regular spots, but most simply pack the main aisles.  Weaving my way through the mass, I feel as if I have been transported to some foreign bazaar, and the principal commodity is compact discs. Ear buds are stretched to accommodate two nodding heads, and students exchange discs from collections that require a small suitcase.

    I was convinced by this daily experience that the right audio program could hold students’ attention in class and motivate their work.  With Rural Voices Radio, what I found was a program that could also foster their sense of community, both with writers and with others of their kind.  CDs are a passion with young people—playing them, dubbing them, trading them are constant activities.  CDs are a medium students value without question, and so they are accessible and inviting, even when used in the classroom.  Furthermore, friends and other relationships are the top priority for young people.  Students are immediately curious about the Rural Voices content.  They are eager to learn about people and places “from-away” and yet from their own time, generation, and stage in life.

    U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins has written, “When oral delivery is at its best, time flows in reverse.  All the books containing the poem are returned to the warehouse; the printing press runs backward; the manuscript is mailed back to the poet who stands before us now with a page in his hand—the original sheet, let’s say—and reads the poem as if for the very first time.”

    An audio field trip with Rural Voices Radio is one example of how students can ride the flow of Rural Voices Radio back to its source, and as they do so, students discover the Rural Voices community and their own place in it.

Open RVR Ken.mp3