By Lara Fishbane, 826DC Intern, Spring 2017

Twice during the project, the high school students from SEED visited Bruce Monroe to serve as writing mentors to the fifth graders. Taking on the role of the writing mentor challenged SEED students to think reflectively about how their 826DC mentors had best served them and responsively to adjust to the unique needs of each Bruce Monroe student. This confidence-building exercise showed SEED students that they have the skills to serve as mentors and role models for the younger writers.

The Bruce Monroe students, on the other hand, handed over their memoirs to the SEED mentors, and opened up about their stories. They readily embraced their high school mentors’ praise and constructive criticism. Though the 826DC interns and volunteers serve a [certain] role for the students, the high schoolers’ experiences felt closer and more relevant to them. They wanted to know what high school is like, what their friends are like, and how they became who they are.

The Bruce Monroe students looked at SEED mentors and imagined the gap between who they are now and the high schoolers they will become. SEED students looked back at the gap, thinking about the moments and challenges that defined and ultimately shaped who they are today. The [inter-school] interaction allowed all the students in the project to think about their identities, not as something that is static, but rather as something fluid and changing over time, that they have the power to take ownership of.

Lara Fishbane is a senior at Georgetown University studying English and Economics. She is passionate about writing, education reform, and exploring the relation between the two. She’s excited to be working as a Publishing and Production intern with 826DC because she wants to help students express themselves through writing and create meaningful impact. When she’s not interning or studying, you’ll find Lara on long runs, hikes, or just lost in a book.