I teach a writing class at the PARC (Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center) in Amarillo, Texas. All of my students are dealing with homelessness, and so many of them -- if not all of them -- feel silenced, ignored, unimportant. Invisible. They feel as if they have not only lost their way, they have lost their sense of self. The main message I strive to convey to them is that all of us have a story to tell, and that their story is important. My hope is that, if they can reconnect to the stories that are hidden away deep inside of them, they will remember who they really are -- that younger version of themselves that once had dreams, ambition, and hope. If they can remember that person and believe again in their own worth, maybe they can also reclaim those discarded dreams and ambitions, find the courage to hope again, and muster the strength to keep pushing forward.
When my students read aloud, I am always astounded at the depth of talent revealed and the wisdom that emerges from their words. Today in class, I read a story aloud from the wonderful book Part of Me by National Book Award-Winning author Kimberly Willis Holt. Then I wrote on the board the titles to all of the short stories in the book and asked them to choose one and write a story of their own with that title. One young woman, Destiny, chose the title "Been Down That Road." She started her story with a poem she wrote that read:
"Been down that road deja vu no more I'm tired of you. That road is not my future."
Destiny beamed when she read that! So did I!
What's your story?