In collaboration with Joseph Magsaysay, we launched an afterschool creative arts program at South San Francisco High School. We reached out to Ethnic Studies teacher Aristel de la Cruz and implemented a program to engage youth and encourage creative writing and artistic expression. Over the course of two years, we met with students on a weekly basis and facilitated creative writing sessions, music jam sessions, and video production projects.
We believe that creative arts can be a powerful tool for self-expression and personal development. Through a social impact framework, the increased engagement of students can lead to higher rates of graduation and on-campus participation. On a personal level, the students were given a space to express emotions and thoughts that were
Joseph Magsaysay and I tag-teamed the responsibilities. We brainstormed the program, created the syllabus, and facilitated the sessions ourselves. I took the lead with video editing and he was the lead for graphic design.
I am a very hidden person and I don’t like to let my feelings out. And just today, I expressed myself and I cried because all the emotions that I had inside, build in and let loose. This has helped me a lot. Thank you for helping me because I get to let out my feelings. My family has been very aggressive on my because they’re old school. And they told me to be a doctor. Or [my] drawing, “This is horrible. You suck at dancing. You’re not good. Just do something better. Do eduction. School.” And once I come here, all that negativity is pushed out. I can just be myself here and not be judged. I can do what I want and what I feel that I want to do in life. (Fatima)
One of our culminating projects was a community zine made from the illustrations and writings of students created during our freewriting sessions. During class sessions, we would review entries from the previous week—anonymous creative technique. The whole group would analyze and give their thoughts about a selected piece created from the previous week’s freewriting session. They would practice artistic critique and interpretation. At the end, the creator of the piece could choose to remain anonymous or reveal themselves to the group.
All the following pieces were created by students during our freewriting sessions. Depending on the day and current events, the sessions would either be open-ended or guided with a prompt. Some of the prompts included were:
What advice would you give your peers?
What is your dream?
What motivates you?
What are you proud of?
What makes you unique?
What is your vision for yourself and this program by the end of the school year?