With only 15 days of camp and with the need to perform on the 16th day for the final showcase, I was hesitant to create an original script in such a short amount of time. The idea came to me that instead of reinventing the wheel, that I might create a performance written by my students in their own voice based on the poem "Where I Am From" by George Ella Lyon, writer and teacher, which I have taught before as a poetry and visual art project.
I was also inspired by the film and animation work of my lovely and talented coworker, Moeko Crider, who has used this poem as a base for youth projects as well.
I decided to alter the poem somewhat to include students' pasts -Where I Am From- but add on the present moment-Where I Am, and their hopes for the future -Where I Am Going. I was overwhelmed by how wonderful, thoughtful, and personal these young women's stories are and what talented young poets and performers.
Below is a copy of the script written by my students. I asked the students to use only three or four lines from each of their original poems, but each girl's entire longer version was equally powerful.
The play will premiere this Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013. at the ACE Summer Showcase at Del Valle High School.
Where I Am From, Where I Am, Where I Am Going
Where I Am From
I am from calm and crazy places, from the finish line, and justice
I am from never give up and always try my best.
I am who I am and I will never change for anybody.
I am from the calm home, quiet, empty.
I am from the sweaty skin and long hair.
I am from menudo and beans.
I am from the ghetto northeast two-story house that smells like vanilla scented candles and red rose flower.
I am from dark skin and big hips from my Dad’s side and Aunt Ovi and Tia Mila.
I am from Houston and El Salvador, pupusa, and chorizo, from the sun beating down on my Dad’s back.
I am from stuffed animals, chocolate ice creams, and ices.
I am from the rose plants that my Mom grows, the grass from six acres, and the grass is green.
I am from pigtails and Rue 21.
I am from my old house with stairs, black and blue, that smells like cooking.
I am from the flowers that smell good, and three different dogs named LeBron, Tyson, and Roscoe, big and wild.
I am from comic books, Batman, and slurpees.
I am from the easily climbable tree in front, trampoline shop, 2-acre back yard, chickens, a rabbit named “Friday,” and watermelons.
I am from eating together for dinner, all having glasses, from Daddy and Mommy and Cades.
Maria de Jesus
I am from the flowery meadow that lives with the woods, horse, cows, and dogs that live together but can often fight and disagree.
I am from long hair that grows during your childhood and belongs to your mother until you are 15 and the hard working Dad.
I am formfitting in no backbone and can get hurt easily, youngest of my family.
WHERE I AM
I am who I am and I will not change for you.
I am how I act and I will never change and I have my techniques and my personalities and they are unique to me.
This is me and I’m here to stay.
I am playing volleyball on the property across our house and the laughing at each other when we mess up.
I am the corny jokes my Stepdad says because he is funny.
I am green and white candles that we light up for my Grandma who passed away.
I am scared of the movie Chucky and his ugly face.
I am going to say, “He is just a deformed puppet.”
I am from acting crazy in dance class and making someone laugh a lot if they are sad.
I am a monkey in a tree. I am as soft as a bunny and my color is brown.
I am my brother’s jokes because he has really funny jokes like “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to be wanted.”
I am a koala, I am funny, and I spit when Ieast eucalyptus leaves and sleep up to 20 hours.
I am Art of the cardinal at Del Valle High School summer camp and feel only good.
I am talking to the stars to be less scared. I am my cousin who makes me laugh by making silly faces.
I am the hope, this wings, purple and pink going whoosh.
I am making superhero crafts and I love superheroes.
I am learning how to play the drums, make props, and movies.
I am Maria trying to help me figure out what scares me and she makes a weird face, but a little funny.
Maria de Jesus
I am the stale paint smell in an art and theatre classroom, from a nauseous rainbow, and from wanting to listen to Imagine Dragon.
I am my Hello Kitty stuff because it makes me act silly.
I am the wet hair tossed on Marisela.
Where I am going
I am going to teach little kids to do the right thing.
I am going to help them out with all their problems.
I am going to be respectful and a good kid.
I am going to finish school, go to the Air Force, then get a job and have a wedding and have kids.
I am going to be the first grandchild to go to college.
I am going to find a cure for Cancer.
I am going to get married and have kids, but finish school first.
I am going to El Salvador and California.
I am going to learn how to be prepared for anything.
I am going to teach kids how to dance.
I am going to learn how to cook when I got to college.
I am going to give the world my sweet and courageous personality.
I am going to try to become a chef and a veterinarian to save animals.
I am going to the University of Texas and Texas State University.
I am going to Wimberley to go swim in the river.
I am going to be a history teacher in California.
I am going to fly or have superpowers.
I am going to be a prop designer and make a movie.
I am going to teach my cousin Johnny to moonwalk.
I am going to be Batman-WAIT! I already am…shhhhh
Maria de Jesus
I am going to a no named land, odd, and beautiful.
I am going to blow my mind with the things I do.
I am going to learn to share my story.
I am going to love forever.