Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aileen (10 Year Old Breaks Record)

It’s never just a story. It’s the way the words are laid across the page. The volume and pace at which the words leave a senior’s lips. The moments when the lips purse in thought, or in mischief. All the details that flood back too fast to get back onto paper. The people who are at the table around you when you share your story. Or the person sitting right next to you. When Aileen, whom my senior buds and I all call “Mommy” in class, read this story out loud, Gloria whom we all call “Daughter”, was sitting next to her, beaming.  Daughter has always accompanied Mommy to class ever since they first joined. Daughter loves Mommy, and Mommy loves Daughter. So much. A story is everything that is on paper, and everything that is not. This may not read like a story about love. But it most definitely is.

Aileen Jefferson
10 Year Old Breaks Record

And that’s exactly true.
Are you interested?
“Mother I want to learn how to swim.”
“You have the rest of your life dear”
“Mother, I want to learn how to swim, now!”
And before I knew it, not the swimming teacher, but her father had accomplished the job.
The next day at the swimming pool as I yelled, “Stay out of the deep end!” my daughter continued swimming across the entire pool.
I was startled.
I held my breath.
She did the impossible, not only across the pool, but the deep end of the pool.
What happened next, I don’t know.  I fainted.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rose (Twice American)

Rose has the kind of voice that calms a room - when she speaks or reads, her voice is both carefree and sensitive. Whenever there is a new senior joining our class, my senior buds and I would tell him or her to just sit back and relax – no need to write if he or she isn’t in the mood yet. Rose nodded when we told her, smiled, and immediately began writing. Tiny pieces of her life glided like tiny dancers right across the page, as though the page is where she has always belonged.

Rosires Raff
Twice American

I used to say that I’m “Twice American”—South (Brazil) and North America.

1971—arrived in New York (Newark, South Orange, North Orange).  Loved every minute and everybody.

Moved to Philadelphia in 1995.

Presently I’m a widow.

I like poems, and also write some.

I have written an interesting story about myself, and many interesting events.  I’d like to find an expert person to help me with it, perhaps it will become a book or a movie.

Who knows?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

High School Shoutout

Hey! Are you a high school student, parent or teacher? Or know someone who is?

Good news - we've made it easier than ever for teens to comment on our seniors' stories. 5 easy steps. That's it! Selected teens and high schools will be featured in upcoming blog posts.

So teens - pop open the Comment tab and try it out. Get out in writing anything that pops into your mind. And get creative on how you'd like to share our flier: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, texts, ... maybe even print out some hard copies and pin them up at a local hangout or on your school's bulletin board.

Thank you for submitting a comment and telling your friends! Here is a look at what some other teens have said, and what your words mean to our seniors and all of us:

At an all-ages public event co-hosted by AARP, Free Library of Philadelphia, and Best Day, 17-year-old Olivia shared that Joe's story gave her a new appreciation for the visually impaired: "I discovered that I was the one who couldn’t see after I was enlightened by their insight." Click to hear the voices of this dynamic duo.
In a story entitled "Pre-Judgment" Norman confesses that before participating in our storytelling class, he was "leery of young people." Hearing the stories of his peers in person and seeing younger readers' responses to these stories online caused his change of heart. Click to hear Norman's candid confession.

Click to hear 16-year-old Madi talk about her participation in our program, and how Loretta's stories about homelessness has impacted her schoolwork and life. Madi first joined our class as a visitor, then became a regular attendee, and soon became a core intern and volunteer leading various aspects of the program both in person and behind the scenes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Diamond (It Doesn't Matter)

In response to one of our seniors' reflections on “People and Color”, 18-year-old Diamond writes, simply and boldly, “It doesn’t matter.” What power in 3 small words.

By Diamond Smith, 18
April 18, 2012
It Doesn’t Matter
In response to “People and Color” by Robert Mitchell, Senior

I don’t think that it should matter what color you are.
I think that, at the end of the day, we are all human.
My body is no different than the next person’s.

Diamond is in 11th grade at St. Mary’s Villa, and an Achieving Independence Center youth member. Her coach is Nicole Sonsini. Click Here to re-read the story that inspired Diamond to write her response.