Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Intention Was To Have Everyone Write Like Katherine Applegate. The Result Was We Wrote Like Ourselves and Bonded.

Two weeks ago, I had to say thank you to the 10 Bassick Students who joined my Graduate course this semester, as the partnership came to a close and Fairfield students began to look to wind down their semester. We said our goodbyes, but then the students contacted me on Facebook and said they wanted to keep learning. "We enjoy  spending time with your teachers. It helps us so much."

I'm a sucker, and I arranged for another week to extend the collaboration. The trouble was that the University vans were scheduled for the wrong date. Usually I have Service Learning Assistants help me, but they were unable to, so I had to take multiple trips, which allowed us to begin class semi-on time.

It was worth the hustle and castle. While reflecting on the carpooling, I realized that this has been a norm for me since 1999 when I first began working with Sudanese Lost Boys in Louisville. It was my way of life in Syracuse, too.

We spent the evening talking about responsibilities and beliefs, coupled with writing in the genres of several writers. This plan was sidetracked however when a young man, Samuel, said he brought an essay he wanted us to help him with. I stopped everything in place and he said, "Don't worry, I brought everyone a copy." And he did.

After we workshopped his writing, which was good, we went to the original plan (1/20th of it, anyway). We did get to the part where the kids listed what they felt were the responsibilities of adults to them. They were responsive and declared, "As refugee kids, we need help. We need to open our minds to you and have you open your minds to us."

The photo above demonstrates what the semester has been - teachers, graduate students and relocated youth writing together.

If this could be the heart and soul of everything I do, I would. I'm now wondering if there's a way to create a school based on this model, where American-born kids, teachers, and immigrant youth can learn, read, write, and think together under the 180 model. Now that would be something.

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