Friday, February 17, 2006

Interview with Mary Adewusi

Interview with Mary Adewusi, Age 16
Junior, Classical High School

Can you tell me what you are doing as a part of this AfterZone program of the Providence AfterSchool Alliance (PASA)?

We go to the YMCA and we do exercises with middle school kids to help them grow in their writing process and as poets.

What is your role?

I am there to listen and give positive feedback on their writing. You cannot become a great poet if everybody is telling you bad things all the time. Where are you going to get the confidence from?

Can you give an example of an exercise you have led?

We recently did “I remember.” The students write a line that begins with “I remember” for each year of their age. So, if they are 12, they write a 12-line poem. One student began with “I remember being scared watching Superman.” Another wrote “I remember spending time with my grandmother.” They come up with great ideas and stories. It’s so great to hear what they have to say. There is so much meaning. If you don’t ask, you wouldn’t know though.

You have been a mentee in our programs for a couple of years, and now you are a mentor. What perspective have you gained from mentoring?

I have gained even more respect for the mentors here. I do not ever want to say the wrong thing to the students. They are in middle school and if you say the wrong thing, they could be scarred for life. When someone says something negative, that’s what sticks. Mentors here have never said the wrong thing to me. Never. They are always positive and always feels like the right response. That’s amazing. Mentors here are making a choice too when they do it. That’s what I never realized. They are choosing to do and say positive things.

Tell me about “Respect the Poet.”

All these kids have great stories about their days… lives… There came a point when everyone was adding in though at the same time. We introduced “Respect the Poet,” which is what anyone can say when a poet should be given the floor… When we should be focused and paying attention to what they have to say. Students like it because they want to be respected. They don’t want their toes stepped on. It’s also great because they can say it to us when they want more of our attention. In this space, on the level of being poets, we are equal.

Final thoughts about your experience?

Meeting these kids over there has influenced me. They are very thoughtful. There is so much meaning in what they have to say. I spend a lot of time with my younger brothers and sisters. I don’t think too many people pay attention to what younger children say or do. They don’t recognize that when they say and do things, they do it for a reason. I think it’s important to sit and listen. There is something to be heard.

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