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Generations of people came to the Midwest in hopes of finding a better life. But economic opportunity has been harder to find since the recession began, and people have left the region in record numbers in search of jobs or a better housing market. Changing Gears “Midwest Migration” project is collecting photos, stories, and voicemail messages from former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.We’re mapping where people ended up, and we're sharing their stories about why they left and whether life is better for them now.We’ll also hear whether they plan to return to the Midwest.You can share your Midwest migration story here, and see responses on our Midwest Migration tumblr page.The Midwest Migration will run through mid-February 2012.

Leaving the Midwest – and the country – to teach

Changing Gears'Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Ryan Brevard
Midwest Home: Kalamazoo, MI
New Home: Mexico City, Mexico

When I graduated college the unemployment rate in Michigan was the highest in the country. I sent out over 150 resumes to all 50 states. Over half were sent to schools in Michigan. This resulted in 5 interviews. Only 2 of those were in person. Only one was in Michigan.

Not being able to find a teaching job, I came across AmeriCorps and was hired to serve with the American Red Cross. After completing two years of service I promised myself I would go on a trip abroad. It was something I had never done before.

I decided that I did not want to spend the little money I had saved from my poverty level income on sipping cocktails on a tropical island. I wanted to have a productive vacation.

So I signed up with an organization that recruits volunteers to teach English to Palestinian refugees. I spent a month living in a refugee camp where electricity was sporadic and fresh, running water nonexistent. It changed my life. It motivated me to continue teaching and traveling abroad.

Currently, I teach second grade English and Health at Instituto Thomas Jefferson in Mexico City. I know I’m not the only individual from the AmeriCorps program in Michigan who has gone on to work internationally instead of in the Midwest or even in the United States. I still would love nothing more than to move back to Michigan, Detroit specifically, to be a part of the rebuilding and revitalization that is taking place as we speak.

Read more Midwest Migration stories on our dedicated page. If you or someone you know has left the Midwest add your own story.

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