Donna Miscolta, a writer, educator and 4Culture award recipient, shares her experience in working with students in the Proyecto Saber program, as well as some of the student’s writing.
I See the World Differently
As a writer in Seattle, I’m lucky to have had the support of two arts organizations. Funding from 4Culture and from the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs helped me complete my novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced and is now providing support for my novel-in-progress. A component of the grant awards is a community involvement project. I described in a previous post my visits to Ballard High School to read and discuss flash fiction with students in Proyecto Saber, a program that provides academic support to Chicano/Latino students. The students created their own short prose pieces and some of them shared their work at a reading at a local bookstore last November. All of the work was compiled in a chapbook titled I See the World Differently. Here are a few examples from the chapbook.
From One Minute to the Next
I began my wild life at a very young age. I was involved in alcohol, drugs and other bad things. I was thirteen years old. The people I was around were in their twenties. I was never scared. Nothing mattered to me. I was living my parents’ divorce. This was my life for four years. There were many lies involved. There was skipping classes, absences, court dates, and more lies. I even ended up in Mexico, a runaway. There I saw even more things. More drugs, violence, deaths, guns, beatings, knives, blood. Coming out of a bad relationship, I found out I was pregnant. At first, I did not know what to do. I thought of ending the pregnancy, but then I realized that my baby wasn’t to blame for my stupidity. I left everything bad for my son. I headed back to the U.S, walking, and six months pregnant.
Yemery Tinoco is a 20-year-old full-time mother. She’s getting married this month and is expecting a baby. Her goals are to get her diploma, study cosmetology, and open her own salon.
He woke up and realized that he didn’t have a lot of friends—only about ten in the entire school. He didn’t really smile a lot and he wasn’t the most talkative person, so maybe that had something to do with it.
He decided he was going to change his attitude to be more positive and agree with more people, and also smile more and see what happens. This turned out to work pretty well because he was more approachable. Some people eventually thought that because he agreed with them all the time, he was faking it and they stopped talking to him.
Anton Corteza is 17 years old and is a senior at Ballard High School. His hobbies are skateboarding, hanging out with friends, and working out. His goals are to graduate, move back to Florida, and find a job.
Theron H. Chasse
I never thought she’d do it. If I dreamed a thousand nightmares, I never would have dreamt of this. I never would have thought of this, but here I am. Alone. A dark and unforgiving place where alone lives. My head swims; my eyes are glued to taking in everything that will never leave. My body’s numb, but I’m aware. God I’m so aware. I hear the screams. My sister’s here now. She’s older; she’ll know what to do. Yes, she’ll know what to do, how to handle all this. For now, my only job is to look and never forget. Yes, never forget what I’ve seen.
I’m being moved. I see the officers and medics swarm as I’m being dragged away. Why can’t they just pick me up? My mother has no trouble picking me up. Why can’t they? I’m outside now, someone’s holding my hand, but I’m not sure who. I look down and see no one’s holding my hand. I’m holding my own hands; they’re clasped in front of me. Red. So Red. They’re shaking. Normally, my body only shakes when I’m cold, but I’m definitely not cold. The red is nice and warm on my hands, almost comforting.
I look over and I see. I truly see. My mother is being brought out. I can’t see her, but I’ve seen enough TV to know she’s in that black bag. Watched enough TV to know she’s gone. Watched enough TV to know she committed suicide right in front of me. Watched enough TV to know that I’ve seen enough for a lifetime, and then I pass out.
Theron Chasse is a senior at Ballard High School. He was the starting defensive end on the football team. He’s going to college next fall either in Seattle or California.
Faster and faster. I keep running. Never stopping. Run ‘til my legs hurt. And continue running. Running away from all arguments. From sorrow. From pain.
She calls saying, “I brought you into this world, and I deserve respect.” Run. She calls again, “Please come back. It’s not safe out here at this time of night.” Run. Run from the confusion. The pain. The depression.
She calls one last time, “You can’t run from your problems.” She’s lying. Run faster. Run ‘til I can’t feel my legs. Run ‘til my legs can’t stop moving. And continue running. Run from feeling lost. From the pain. From feelings.
It may be better to just leave. Leave the pain. The feelings. My life. Just leave.
STOP. What about my brother and sister. Both under the age of six. Would they understand? How would they react? What would they benefit? They would be left with her. They would experience my pain, my sorrow, my depression. They need a sister and I need them.
Turn around and go home.
Jazmin Crump is 15 years old and a sophomore at Ballard High School. She enjoys getting together with her family. Her career goal is to graduate college with a major in business and become an accountant.
My brother never had a chance; it was either football or the streets. He did not choose the streets but the streets chose him. Opportunity was not present during his rough childhood. Dad was never there; he was a mama’s boy. But then he grew older and mama couldn’t handle him anymore. She didn’t know what to do. He had no male influence in his life except for his cousins, the closest thing he had to brother. They were all gangbangers so the influence they gave was not good.
He started hanging with the pimps, killers and drug dealers. He was a little guy, but they respected him. They had no choice. He was throwing his life down the drain, but he thought he was doing well because he was connected and had money in his pocket.
When he turned sixteen, the only good influence in his life and one of the people he cared the most for, his grandfather, died of a heart attack. His heart was full of pain and his mother hoped this would put him in check. But that hope was in vain. He knew he had an “I don’t care about anything” and an “f the world” attitude. He was in deep in the streets and it was too late to get out. All the suspensions and calls from school were starting to stress mama out.
Two years later Mama died of cancer. His pain was indescribable. His mama was his rock, his everything, and now he felt he had nothing but the streets.
His uncle took him in and got him into football and became a big part of his life. He tried to teach him alternatives, but my brother didn’t listen.
Now he has three children by three girls and just got sentenced to three years in prison.
He sits in the cell thinking “what if?”
“What if I wouldn’t have hit that blunt?”
“What if I wouldn’t have skipped class?”
Dana Williams is a junior at Ballard High School. Her hobbies are football, basketball, and track. Her goals are to go college and be successful.