Photojournalism

By Lara Fishbane, 826DC Intern, Spring 2017

The gallery walk provoked a strong reaction in the students at Bruce Monroe. They responded to pictures of racial injustice with words like “fear” and pictures of resistance with words like “power” and “courage” and “bravery”. Even though the students didn’t know the background of the photos or the circumstances under which they were taken, something universal registered in them. They learned that images can elicit feelings and memories without words.

In the closing weeks of the project, the students had the opportunity to take a turn experimenting with photojournalism. They were asked to think about how they could capture their experiences attending Bruce Monroe through images. The students began brainstorming the places and things that they pass by everyday that together represent the school.

As the students walked the halls of a school that was so familiar to them, they had to think through the lens of outsiders. They stopped to reexamine the murals and portraits and walls that they often passed without thought. Students then had to think about how to make their pictures interesting and different by capturing these everyday scenes from new perspectives. They got on the floor, tilted the angle of the camera, and stood from higher than they’re used to. They started seeing their school differently.

The exercise challenged the students to think about how they could transmute their stories and identity through a different medium: photography. Picking up the camera also encouraged them to think more actively about the daily environment that they passively exist in, and how it has shaped them and their stories.


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.

Mentorship

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.

Defining a singular moment with help from “the 5 W’s”

By Lara Fishbane, 826DC Intern, Spring 2017

As the students began selecting the topics that they wanted to delve further into, they needed a way to translate the abstractness of their memories into stories. They began by identifying a singular moment. Narrowing the focus allowed the students to draw out the essentials of their experience more easily and also prepared them to work on their 5 W’s sheets.

The 5 W’s worksheet promotes intentional and directed brainstorming by having students identify the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of the piece. The focused moment became the “What.” The “Who” reiterated that memoirs, by nature, are about the student writing them. However, students had to think not only about their own role in the story, but also about their relationships and interactions with others. The “Where” and “When” helped to ground their stories in a particular time and place, so that the next week students would be ready to craft descriptions of setting. The “Why” challenged students to consider why their story is worth telling and to begin thinking about how it could be situated in a greater societal context.

As students parsed out the details of their stories, they had to also think about how their experience informed and was informed by their identities. This practice conditioned students to think of their memoir not just as an account of an isolated event, but also as an interaction between experience, identity, and culture.  

The sheets that the students worked on became a guiding framework for their writing. It gave direction to their first drafts and became the checklist that students held their final revisions up against to ensure that they hadn’t missed any essential details.


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.

Having To Tell Your Mother Is the Hardest Part

We are so excited to announce the arrival of our next student publication!

Having To Tell Your Mother Is the Hardest Part is a collection of personal narratives written by students from Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary and the SEED School of Washington, DC. This is our first Young Authors’ Book Project in which older students mentored younger writers, as both tackled difficult questions about identity and the world they live in. Read our ongoing series of posts about the Young Authors’ Book Project for more insight on the workshop process leading up to publication.

It’s also our first book in full color— and wow, is it beautiful!

Please join us for the book release event on May 17, 4:30-6pm in the auditorium at Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary. RSVP here on Facebook. There are too many individuals to thank for making this publication possible, but special gratitude goes to our amazing volunteers who supported this project with their time and thoughtful dedication to preserving the student voices within.

Let the release party countdown begin!


About the Book

What if how you see yourself is not how the world sees you?

Inspired by socially charged photojournalism and mentor texts that include Junot Diaz and Claudia Rankine, students spanning ages ten to sixteen tackle questions about who they are and the world they live in. Having to Tell Your Mother Is the Hardest Part is a collection of personal narratives that encompasses the fears, dreams, and hopes of young writers, ranging from concerns about immigration to soccer tournament victories to a community that unites after an earthquake to the story behind a name, as well as critical responses to the 2016 United States presidential election. Filled with joy and sadness, young writers reflect on the encounters between themselves and the world around them, musing over misunderstandings and broken connections, and parsing out the meaning of identity in a multicultural and multilingual world.

This project was supported in part by the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University. 


Interested in obtaining a copy? We’re currently accepting orders for #TellYourMother through our online store. Orders will ship when the book is released on May 17. All proceeds support 826DC and allow us to continue to publish student work.

Pre-order #TellYourMother

 

Help Kickstart Our Newest Project

**UPDATE: As of May 25, you can schedule your gift in advance of Do More 24. Save yourself the trouble later and donate now to 826DC’s campaign**

Every day across our programs, we see promise in our students. They envision new worlds (made of candy) and write powerful poetry about the rapidly changing city they call home. Despite their passion for writing, many will face challenges and barriers to success. One thing we can do with your support is provide the individualized attention they need to take their writing to new levels, allowing them to develop lifelong skills.

Do More 24 is a 24-hour fundraiser for nonprofits in our region hosted by United Way NCA. This year it falls on Thursday, June 8. Our goal? To establish a new “Young Writer in Residence” program at 826DC. Your donations during Do More 24 will support individualized mentorship opportunities for a promising young writer in our community, like Chidinma (below) and other students whose work with us was recently featured on NPR.

 

So how can you help?

  • 1. Schedule your gift on or before the big day (June 8) at this link.
  • 2. Tell your friends about your plans to support 826DC’s efforts (click to Tweet below)
  • 3. Attend our Do More 24 kickoff event with Story District on June 7

Kickoff event details:
Story District and 826DC have decided to join forces this year as we prepare for Do More 24. Join us for drinks and a special edition of our monthly lowercase reading at Petworth Citizen to kick off this 24-hour celebration of local impact. Come learn how you can #DoMore to support the literary arts in our community, starting with a pledge to support your favorite nonprofit on June 8 during Do More 24.
June 7
7-9pm

 

About Story District:
Story District’s mission is to turn good stories into great performances, to be a platform for diverse perspectives, and to serve as a pipeline and training ground for new voices and talent in storytelling.  Named the “gold standard” in storytelling by the Washington Post and nominated for the 2012 DC Mayor’s Arts Awards for Innovation in the Arts, Story District reaches an audience of more than 10,000 annually through the production of more than 25 performances, ongoing adult education classes, and custom trainings and performances for businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. They value storytelling as a space for people to listen and be heard, connect with others, embrace different perspectives, examine their own lives, and explore what it means to be human.