“I change myself, I change the world.” ― Gloria Anzaldúa
This summer, I co-facilitated the FIRST Somos Escritoras workshop in Austin, Texas with a group of talented doc students and undergraduate students from UT and my younger sister.
In previous Somos Escritoras workshops, Latina girls and their mothers and Latina girls and their mothers and fathers met to write, draw and share stories from their lived experiences. Each time, I work alongside girls and their parents in this space, the girls always describe that they feel free and comfortable to write and share alongside—unlike they do in school or in other settings. For many, this feeling of comfort and solidarity comes from hearing each other’s stories, and being heard and realizing from this sharing that they are not alone in their experiences. They ask for more time and they ask for a space for them to meet and share—just the Chicas.
To honor their requests, I decided that I would organize a Somos Escritoras creative writing workshop for the Chicas to come together to share and perform stories from their lived experiences through artwork and writing—while building and growing alongside one another.
During the first two weeks in June, 13 Latina adolescent girls in grades 6-12 met at the Con Mi Madre offices to participate in Somos Escritoras/We Are Writers. At workshops, we explored topics related to language, culture, gender, family, education and advocacy. Girls read and listened to poetry and essays written by Maya Angelou, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, Pat Mora, Michelle Serros and other Black and Latinx writers. storytellers and spoken word poets that connected to these topics and their lived experiences. They discussed these texts, connecting them to their lived experiences, and those of their friends and family, while considering how this impacted their worlds and how they had the power to create counter narratives through the writing and speaking of their own truths. Girls created self-portraits, masks, advocacy posters, illustrations and other pieces of art in which they defined themselves in their own words, extending meaning through writing.
Throughout the week, we played improve games and warm-ups to not only strengthen our bond and have fun, but to continue to reflect on the importance of teamwork, working through tensions and always coming back to our breath—our center.
On the final night, we gathered on the University of Texas at Austin campus to celebrate the work that we had done together as a community of escritoras poderosas.
We invited family and friends to join us in celebrating our words and our stories. At the celebration, each girl stood in front of our invited guests and shared a piece that they had written at the workshop. Girls shared pieces in which they honored their mothers for all they do for them, describing their pride in their cultura, and declaring who they were and who they were becoming.
**Thank You: Con Mi Madre, UT Austin Curriculum and Instruction, Language and Literacy Colleagues, Cinthia Salinas, Noah DeLissovy & Aracelia Hernandez, Karen French, Lucas Horton, Yvonne Taylor, Christina Murray, Omar Rodriguez, Mr. Salmerón, Vivian & George Flores, Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, Laura Gonzalez, Nathaly Batista-Morales, Cori Salmerón, Maya Ellison & Stephanie Flores.