This week we worked on “gifts of writing”—to others and to ourselves. The concept behind this activity is simple: often we have things to say to our loved ones, but we don’t take the time or energy to say them. On the same note, we often have things we need to say to ourselves, but we go about our daily lives without digging deeper. “Say things to ourselves?” the kids asked with a weird look in their eye. “yeah, like if you stuff your emotions, or if you have dreams that you want to accomplish, try to bring this things out from your gut,” I told them.
On this note, we turned on B96 and we wrote. Before we would compose letters or poems, we had members draw feeling maps that represented specific things they would say to someone else. Then in their journals, they wrote to boys, mothers, fathers; one girl even wrote to her future son or daughter (and promised us this wouldn't happen for a long time!). After writing to someone else, we had the group start brainstorming about what they wanted to say to themselves. They started with the following exercise:
The greatest joy in my life is _________________
The biggest lack in my life is_________________
I worry that ______________________________
My biggest dream is _______________________
If my dreams come true, my family will _______
If I let myself feel it, I’m angry that ___________
I’m happiest when _________________________
Just doing this preliminary exercise was a profound learning moment; members talked about what they wrote and got ideas from each other. They also talked about boyfriends gone bad and confrontations at school. I encouraged one “chatty” :) girl to channel her energy into something creative, which resulted in an eloquent letter to her past boyfriend! Now this is what learning looks like, I thought to myself as hip hop played in the background...
Next week we’re going to polish our letters and wrap up the activity. Members will decide whether or not they will actually give their letters to their loved ones. We’re also going to have a drawing which will allow two lucky members to attend a Bulls playoff game with Tom Li and Meghan!