One of the best parts of teaching English as a Second Language is not only connecting with diverse students and colleagues, but also the opportunity to experience new places. I am originally from New England, specifically, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. I have also had the opportunity to live in Denver, Colorado, a small village in France, and now, Canyon, Texas. Canyon has turned out to be quite an adventure, from the famous Palo Duro Canyon just down the road, to nearby Amarillo and slightly further-away Lubbock, to the warm, welcoming, and happy residents.
When you first arrive at the small, 1-terminal airport in Amarillo, there’s nothing but a vast expanse of grass and roads. But as you arrive in Canyon, there are suddenly green trees all around. There’s even a small river-like body of water that winds its way around one side of town. Horses and other assortments of animals, both wild and domesticated, can be seen nearly everywhere you go. There are wildflowers along the highways, making Canyon and the surrounding areas a beautiful place just to drive or bike.
The campus of West Texas A&M is a beautiful sanctuary, with green lawns and tall trees, with small benches for you to enjoy the outdoors. There’s also a small water fountain with a buffalo statue, the center of campus. Next to that is the massive Old Main building, contrasted by gardens with a pleasant variety of colors and the fresh smell of flowers. If you like the outdoors, this is the place to go on campus!
Just down the road, is Palo Duro Canyon, said to be the second largest canyon in the United States, and called the “Grand Canyon” of Texas. As you drive there, there’s nothing but flat land. Then suddenly, you’re in the canyon! There are trees, and bushes, and many animals to see. You can hike to your heart’s content, or enjoy the views while having dinner at one of the many picnic tables beside the road.
Then you have Amarillo, about 20-30 minutes away, where there are museums, a mall, and a couple wildlife reserves. While Lubbock is farther away, and in the opposite direction, it is a definite must while living in Canyon. There are more museums there, many public gardens and parks to explore, and a lake where you can go swimming, kayaking, or motorboating.
To me, growing up in rural New England, Canyon is like a small city, but it has a small-town feel, where everyone is friendly and helpful. Despite its city-like layout and plain appearance at first, Canyon is a place full of things to do and places to explore and enjoy; full of color, life, friendliness, and happiness.