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Monday, March 19, 2018

Slice #19- The Newcomers

9:15 on Monday night.
Forty-five minutes until slices for today close and I have not sliced.
But I have a good excuse.
Or at least a kind of good excuse.
I have been trying to slice in the morning, but this morning I had a lot of school work left to finish.

And tonight I went with my book club to see Helen Thorpe.
Helen Thorpe is an award-winning Colorado author who writes narrative nonfiction.
Her first book, JUST LIKE US, details the life of four high school girls, several of whom are undocumented immigrants, trying to graduate from high school and navigate the world of the university. Her second book, SOLDIER GIRLS, is about veterans. Her newest book, THE NEWCOMERS, just released in November, is about a classroom at Denver's South High. The classroom is what's known as a "newcomers" class, for students who have just arrived in the United States. Helen Thorpe spent a year in this classroom, following teacher Eddie Williams, and his 22 students from places as far away as the Congo, Burma, Iraq, and Mexico. Tonight, the South High PTA sponsored an author talk about the book.

And it was stunning.
Exhilirating.
Sobering.

First four women, all immigrants- one a paraprofessional from Sudan, Mariam from Iraq, then another young woman who just won second in state wrestling, and finally, a 9th grader, who stopped several times during her talk to wipe away tears. Finally, Thorpe got up and showed slides and talked for almost an hour.

And it was one of those talks that left me feeling like I need to do more.
More to better the lives of people who need the riches the wealthiest country is more than capable of providing, if we choose to do so.
More to better the lives of the refuge students at my school.
More to help all of my students understand that their voices really do matter, and it's important to learn to write well, so that you can tell your stories and bring about change in the world. 

My slice is really late tonight.
But I have a really good reason.
Tonight I was inspired by a writer who really knows how to use her voice to make change in the world.
I want to be a writer like that.


10 comments:

Alice Kelsch said...

Those sound like such fascinating books! I'm glad you got to go see the author.

Ramona said...

Wow! What an interesting and inspiring evening. Thanks for sharing the stories you heard. I'll be looking for Helen's latest book.

Andrea Bortscheller said...

I love that the event was sponsored by the PTA and that you attended with your book club! Thanks for sharing.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

I want to read this book right now! It sounds amazing. Off to order.... I'm so glad you sliced about this!

elsie said...

An evening with an author is always inspirational, but this lady sounds amazing!

Karen said...

Oh. Wow. This sounds like an evening that was incredibly uplifting and possibly, life-changing. I'm so glad you had this opportunity. I will reserve this book asap at our library; it sounds amazing.

Michelle said...

Wow! Sounds fascinating! This was a really good excuse! Thanks for the book recommendation too! I wonder if Jennifer (from ihabloespanglish.blogspot.com) has heard about this book!?! I think she would love it ... knowing her experience and her students!

Tamara Jaimes said...

What an amazing evening! I loved Just Like Us when my book club read it, and I hope we read a The Newcomers together as well. Helen Thorpe is inspirational in the stories she tells.

JenniferM said...

So glad you got to be inspired in this way! This is why I love my job -- my ELLs are absolutely incredible. (Hmmm, I need an author to come follow around my kids for a year!) Adding this and Just Like Us to my to-read list!

Katy Collins said...

A colleague recommended I stop by your blog to read this slice, and I’m so glad she did! I work at a school in Indianapolis called the Newcomer Program and teach 23 4th, 5th, and 6th grade kids from all over. I cannot WAIT to read these books!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!