Creciendo Juntos

Creciendo Juntos

LEARNING, LEADING AND GROWING TOGETHER.

Our newest program, Social Justice through Creative Practice, came to an end in October. As many know, this program was created and organized to bring guest speakers from different creative fields to spark inspiration into youths of Charlottesville into taking initiative of practicing social justice in non-traditional methods. After a couple months, we were able to complete the first chapter of this program.

I was able to sit down with one of the students who attended to all the artist talks, poetry readings, and the workshop.

Sara Luna, a senior from Monticello High School and club leader of Latinx Unidos, took it upon her to spread the news of each artist’s visit through her networks and friends. Her presence beamed in each event she attended. She also bought poetry collections and books and participated in the discussions of each artist’s visit.

I started the conversation by asking Sara to going into her point of view of her journey of this program, as a young Latina living in Charlottesville.

Sara took a moment to reflect. “As a Latinx youth of Charlottesville, it feels really good to [experience] a speaker or an activity geared toward us. I’ve never been a part of something like that. So, it felt refreshing to automatically feel a sense of belonging that is connected to my culture.” She also feels that this sense of belonging is shared by her peers and friends that attend to the local high schools. “We just felt welcome, by language and culture.”

I asked her if she had known any of these guest speakers prior to their arrival.

“I didn’t know much about these artists originally,” She began, “but through this program, I was exposed to some of the most amazing people I know. For example, I had to look into José Olivarez when I first heard of him…. When I got a chance to see some of his poems being performed live, he just had a way with his words that his spoke to me and my Latinx culture.”

I wonder out loud to her if she had one poem in mind that she remembers the most.

“Oh yeah, the vaporub one.” She laughs. ‘Vaporub’ is Vicks Vapor Rub that is known to be used as the “cure” for anything within aunties and grandmothers of Latinx communities. “It was good and almost funny to hear that kind of talk being presented under the spotlight.”

I asked her if there was any artist guests in particular that resonated to her.

“With Javier Zamora, I was able to reflect a lot. I arrived to the States with residency. Through his experiences and words [in seeking asylum, refugees, arriving without legal status], I was able to recognize that there is a bigger portion of the Latinx community around me that shares his experiences. It put me in a sense of realization where I acknowledged my privileges.” She said.

With this in mind, I wondered if she felt any sparks of practicing social justice or taking initiative into becoming involved with activism.

“I’m starting to learn more about social justice issues that are happening around me.” She started, “I used to not be aware of it, but I’m glad that I’m being exposed to it because it makes me speak up more around my peers. Sometimes, I would start more conversations about other issues too!”

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