Thursday, July 19, 2007

7-11, 7-18: Story writing!

7-11, 7-18

We kicked off our summer meetings with a focus on story writing! On 7-11 we went to Oz Park on Armitage and Halsted, set up blankets, and did some “imagination exercises.” Some of the exercises asked students to write about their lives; for example, “name 15 things you see outside of your house.” Or: “think of a song that brings back strong memories. What song is it? What kinds of feelings do you associate with the song?” Then, some of the exercises asked students to make up stories, or little scenarios. One example is: “Through the laundromat window, I see….” The point of doing the exercises was to get students’ creative muscles working and give them inspiration for writing their own stories (real or imagined).

On 7-18 we continued with the exercises and talked about possible stories. Marcus will be writing about his “block.” Eboni will write about a song that triggers a memory of a past boyfriend. Victoria is also writing about a song. LaFaye is writing a fiction story from a young girl’s perspective that describes the girl searching for her mother, who is never around. TT is writing about a song that brings back strong memories of her uncle who passed away. We talked about different elements of story writing such as what draws the reader in and how to be descriptive. I tried to help the students narrow down their story ideas—to write about a moment, or an event, rather than trying to capture too much in one story. They got some words on paper, which was great! They will be working on their stories on their own time and next week, we’ll look at first drafts and work on revising!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Year end dinner story: it's all about family!

Before we move on to our summer meetings, I wanted to post a re-cap of the year-end dinner...

With the theme of “This Is Just the Beginning,” the Cabrini Connections family gathered for the year-end dinner on June 8th—celebrating students’ accomplishments and looking toward the future.

With his words and his spirit, Jabar taught us about destiny. A graduate of CC and college sophomore inspired younger students to stay focused. Then Eboni, Tajeria, LeFaye, and Victoria from the writing group performed an improv and poetry skit about seeing “The Color Purple.” They head-bobbed, showed us attitude, and reminisced as the audience laughed and went along for the ride.

Courtland and Ana kept things running smoothly as students, volunteers, and special guests met each other and chatted over dinner. We listened to India Arie, and a slide show of student memories played in the background (thanks Roman!). Over dinner, we introduced ourselves and shared our diverse experiences working with the kids at CC.

After dinner, proud parents took the mic to share their kids’ experiences with the organization. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one crying as one father told us that “it’s not always easy raising kids and keepin’ them smellin’ nice.” But with the help of CC, he’s given them a future. He thanked the CC “family,” extended special thanks to Dan, and inspired us with his heartfelt words.

Dan built on the theme of family in his seven minute speech (Ana had given him five :)). The reason Dan could talk all day is because he’s committed to CC—in both his words and his actions. He talked about the beauty of so many diverse types of people coming together to make CC a success and reminded us that we’re not just an organization, we’re a family. He encouraged us to keep looking to the future and staying connected to CC.

Rebecca talked about the future ambitions of the IYP Video Club and showed us a preview of the full-length documentary that members had produced. Courtland and Ana announced student awards and passed out prizes to the deserving winners!! We clapped for graduating seniors Jabar Norman, Kevin Stanfield, and Terika White.

With the spirit of CC, these students would be moving on. But as we had learned throughout the evening, you never lose touch with family; their accomplishments would live on through the younger students who’d be a part of the family for years to come. So when we left for the evening, we knew we’d be in contact soon—to continue doing the homework, making memories, and together learning what it means to succeed.