The good folks at 826 Valencia decided to continue a tradition of asking students to write letters to a newly elected president and publishing them in book form. It was one of the writing options this week and one of my kids chose it.
J: Will he read it?
R: I don’t know.
J: Will he answer?
R: Probably not
J: Then why should we do it?
R: When you have ideas, opinions, concerns, it’s important to express them. Writing this letter is a way to make your feelings known.
J: I don’t want to.
R: Let’s give it a try.
We began by brainstorming using an outline prepared by the staff. The first item was “Tell the President-elect something about yourself”.
J: I don’t want to.
R: Why not?
He just shook his head.
R: Why not just tell him your name and where you live?
J: I don’t want to. He’ll come and get me.
R: I don’t think that’s going to happen. I was trying like hell to be positive.
J: Yeah, but you don’t know.
R: I’m pretty sure.
He turned away.
R: Let’s move on to the next part. What do you want to tell the new president?
J: Don’t build a wall.
R: Good. Let’s tell him why you think that.
J: Because I’m Mexican and Mexicans should be free and I have cousins in Mexico.
R: That’s good. You can write that.
But he doesn’t write.
R: What’s wrong?
J: He doesn’t like Mexicans. He says bad things.
R: Do you think all people should be treated the same?
He looks at me and nods his head. My question too dumb to merit a verbal response.
R: Then you should write that. It’s important for him to hear.
But he pulls the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head, then sinks to the table.
I so want to reach this kid.
R: J, it can really help to say what you feel and by writing it down, you let other people know and you’ll find they feel that way too. A lot of people with the same ideas getting together can change things, so being able to speak and write about how you feel is powerful. That’s why you come here to practice writing and this is important to write about.
His head stays down. I don’t know if he’s tired, not feeling well, really upset, or just lazy. I keep trying to reach him but I’m not getting through and we’re running out of time.
Is there anything else you want to tell him?
Yeah, he shouldn’t be president.
Now, more than ever, we have an obligation to help kids like this. Donate, volunteer at 826 Valencia.
©2016 Ron Scherl