Julia Conner is a current 11th grade students in the Academy of International Studies.
How long does a book stay on the New York Times Bestseller List? Ask Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, whose debut has ruled the top of the list for more than one hundred weeks.
The Hate U Give is a contemporary novel aimed at young adults and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Protagonist Starr Carter lives in gentrified neighborhood Garden Heights, but attends a private school where she is only one of the two Black students. Constantly code switching, Starr learns to deal with the prejudices of her White classmates and her Black neighbors. Then, a police officer tragically shoots one of her childhood friends, Khalil, and she is the sole witness.
The Hate U Give has won the 2017 National Book Award, the Goodreads Choice Award for Debut Authors, and the 2018 Coretta Scott King Award. Its impact, however, cannot be summed up only through a list of accolades.
The work by Angie Thomas aims to connect young people to literature they can relate to and fearlessly delves into the intricacies surrounding race and police violence. Her book has been been banned across several school districts, some for profanity, but also because of the scrutiny of law enforcement.
The hashtag #OwnVoices denotes the idea that a character shares an aspect of identity with the author, whether that encompasses race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender, disability, or neurodivergence. The Hate U Give derives much of its power from its OwnVoices characteristics; that a Black Mississippian woman wrote about a girl sharing her experiences stemming from race and socio-economic background lends all the more authenticity to the story. But what if representative books aren’t accessible to a community?
Carrboro High School’s READ club, standing for Raising Equal Access to Diversity through Reading, aims to increase the accessibility of books with a specific focus on OwnVoices. Even in a community with ready access to more books than I could ever read, I, an adopted Chinese girl, have rarely seen positive representation of that facet of my identity in young adult literature. I didn’t know that a mirror was missing until I found it in Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, which addresses aspects of privilege in transnational adoptions, but also portrays adoption as a valid part of personhood. Such positive representation is even harder to find for people of more marginalized identities; even Anger is a Gift is not OwnVoices to adoptees.
This November, READ is gathering funds to help John F Kennedy High School in Winston Salem purchase their own classroom copies of The Hate U Give. JFK High School is a growing Title 1 school whose needs are rapidly outgrowing their funds. The school’s librarian fostering the project says that the students, all of whom receive free lunch and breakfast, will be able to relate to experiences in The Hate U Give when they see a community in the book reflective of their own.
How can you help? Through December 19, READ is hosting a raffle with the possibility of winning a Collector’s Edition and Movie Tie-In Edition of The Hate U Give, and also a THUG themed sticker pack. Each ticket costs $1, and every five people you refer to the raffle is equivalent to an extra entry. All funds collected from the raffle help purchase copies of The Hate U Give for students at John F Kennedy High School.
You have the ability to speak up about how access to representative books matter. In the words of Angie Thomas: “What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?”
Learn more about John F Kennedy High School’s project here.
READ CHS meets every other Monday at lunch in D217. Email Julia Conner (email@example.com) or Omia Haroon (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
This series of posts that asks current AIS students "What do you want to get out of AIS?" or "What do you get out of AIS?" Below you will the response of Will Brady, a current 11th grade student in the AIS program.
Opinion is a crucial part of life. Opinion is one of the few things a person has to call their own. However, people often become compelled to toss aside individual reasoning and make decisions based on whatever group they choose to affiliate themselves with or whatever the majority thinks. This kind of groupthink is in opposition to the goal of AIS. AIS aims to encourage individuality and aspires to incubate a group of well rounded independent thinkers. Open mindedness is a substantial part of being an internationally focused citizen. Conflicting views are welcomed in AIS as they should be everywhere.
In my years as a student in the public school system I have experienced varying degrees of isolation due to a unique or under represented perspective that I have held. In class I found it common to believe there was a correct way to think or a single correct opinion. I often found myself writing based on what I thought was the right way to think or what my instructor expected me to think. I now understand that the “correct” opinion will always merely be the opinion of the majority. I have often found myself mirroring what I perceive to be “correct” rather than upholding my own opinion. I have figured that if I didn’t play to the majority I might be sacrificing my grades or social status. Looking back I wonder how many other students found themselves stuck in similar situations. I imagine I am not the only student who had to mask their opinion. In the AIS program I have felt more comfortable hanging up the mask and writing my truth as I am now.
A school should be an impartial place in which only the facts are presented. Interpretation can’t be taught. AIS seeks to foster individuality and diversity of opinion so its students can engage with an equally diverse world. We must engage with diverse opinions in order to achieve the goal of forming international citizens.
This is the first in a series of posts that will ask current AIS students "What do you want to get out of AIS?" Below you will the response of Sawyer Asaro, a current 9th grade student in the AIS program.
I love to travel and learn about other cultures. I have my entire life. My grandparents, who I am very close with, have cultivated that love and interest by taking me on trips, both internationally and domestically. In addition, they are from Poland, so I’ve been exposed to their culture and heritage. I’ve heard about AIS from years when my older brother participated in the program. The more I heard about the international focus of the curriculum coupled with the activities and trips bolstered my interest. I decided to join AIS to strengthen my understanding of international affairs in the context of my everyday classes. I like the idea of themes tying my classes and curriculum together. I also love the idea of a school within a school. So my goal for being an AIS student is becoming a more thoughtful and understanding global citizen who is ready as the world gets smaller and smaller through technology and globalization.
NOTE: This post is re-posted from Global Citizen Year with their permission. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more about their program. The original post is from September 15th, 2018.
About the Author: Sarah Montross is a 2018 graduate of the Carrboro High School Academy of International Studies. In addition to her involvement in AIS, she was also a prominent member of the women's volleyball team at CHS. She is currently spending her Global Citizen gap year in Ecuador and wrote about her experiences for their website. Click here to follow her posts!
I thought I’d designate this blog post to my host family because a short – or long – week ago, I arrived in Guapán, Azogues, Ecuador, where I will be spending the next seven and a half months. Guapán is a small town on the outskirts of Azogues, a relatively modest city in the province of Cañar. I’m living with a family of six, myself included, with three sisters – Layla who is eight months old, Amy who is three years old, and Briana who is eleven. My host mom, Ruth, and host dad, Moises, welcomed me with open arms into their mountain home, where I have become their fourth daughter. Please bear with me as I write this blog, because my brain is constantly
scrambled between English and Spanish :)
My host mom is one of the most patient people I have ever met. I guess she has to be, living with three small children – Layla, Amy, and myself, since I currently have the literacy and understanding of a toddler. Briana acts as the second mom in the family; she cooks most of the dinners and fiercely looks after her sisters. She and I get along quite well, and she’s not afraid to correct my grammar when I mispeak or simply don’t know how to form a sentence. Soon, we will walk to school together, where I’ll be co-teaching English to elementary age kids. Amy is an absolute fireball. She has endless reserves of energy and could run around all day screaming for helado – ice cream. She loves to bend my UNO cards and is learning how to survive without diapers, which is quite the journey. And Layla, sweet Layla. From the first time I met her, she was tranquila – calm and easygoing. She loves to stick anything and everything in her mouth, from hair ties, to bracelets, to my butterfly necklace. When she starts crying, all I have to do is stick her in front of a mirror and she instantly quiets down, mesmerized by her reflection.
Aside from my immediate family, it seems that almost every single member of my extended family lives in Guapán or Azogues. Ruth proudly introduces me to all my cousins as “mi hija por siete meses” – my daughter for seven months. Earlier this week, Ruth, Amy, Briana and I went to my abuela’s house (right up the mountain) to dig up potatoes from her farm. My abuela and I worked together as I listened to her weathered Spanish and frequent outbursts of “¡que linda!” and “¡preciosa!” when we unearthed a large potato. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in weeks, which is saying a lot considering the vast amount of time I’ve spent with my GCY cohort. The discovery of each papa was rewarded with a toothy grin from my abuela, followed by a long winded, one sided dialogue. I hardly understood anything, but I could tell by her body language how much she enjoyed our time on the mountainside.
Not only have I found a family in my homestay, but I’ve found one with my GCY Fellows as well. A few days ago we had our first Spanish class in Cuenca, where I finally got to see some of the southern Ecuador Fellows for the first time since arriving in our homestay. I honestly did not realize how much I needed a break from full immersion until we saw each other, swapped homestay stories, and spoke English! The past week has been an adjustment, but I’m growing to love my Ecua-family and all the bumps along the road (both literally and figuratively).
For more information about the Global Citizen Gap Year program, visit their website: https://www.globalcitizenyear.org/
About the Author: Nichole is a junior at Carrboro and is currently in her third year of AIS. She is a member of the field hockey and basketball teams and plays tenor saxophone and clarinet in Carrboro’s jazz band. Nichole enjoys spending time in Mrs. Barry’s room and participates in the peer buddy club.
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Youth Ambassadors program to Argentina and Chile. I traveled around Santiago, Chile and various cities in Argentina with eleven other high school students and lived in San Juan, Argentina for ten days. We were fully immersed in Chilean and Argentine culture and language the whole time. From earning the nickname ‘llaves’ for losing my keys on top of a mountain in Santiago, to thinking culinary students were about to kill a goat in front of me in Barreal, Argentina, the Youth Ambassador program was the best experience of my life.
The program started out in Washington D.C. where all the participants met each other and engaged in seminars about our communities and our roles in the world. My group (the group with a homestay in Argentina) had people from all different backgrounds all over the U.S. whom I had never met in my life. The people I met that day would turn into my support group, best friends and family for the next three weeks and beyond and I could not be more thankful for them. To finish our time in D.C. we met with foreign service members at the State Department who walked us through a negotiation simulation (similar to what Model U.N. is like). The foreign service members talked to us about how we could turn the trip we were about to embark on into a lifelong career by becoming a foreign service member. After that meeting, we got on a very long plane ride to Santiago, Chile.
We stayed in Santiago for about three days. While we were there we went on hikes, met with the U.S. ambassador to Chile, learned about overfishing and its effect on Chile, participated in workshops on culture shock and took a day trip to the neighboring coastal city Valparaiso, Chile. From the busy schedule and complete Spanish immersion, our brains were working overtime and it became accepted to start sleeping everywhere and anywhere. From Santiago, my group took a twelve hour bus ride through the Andes to San Juan, Argentina to meet our host families for the next ten days.
Living with the host family was the most difficult part of the program for me by far. My host family did not speak much English and my Spanish is not great. There were so many circumstances where I tried desperately to understand what they were saying to me and just couldn’t. The first day I spent with them I felt completely lost, I was so far from anything I had known before and was confused all the time. I wanted to understand my host family and fully engage in their life, but it was so frustrating because I couldn’t express my thoughts, something I had never struggled with before. Despite my frustration, my host family could not have been more patient and kind with me at all times. When I couldn’t understand them they broke their sentences into the simplest form possible and walked me through it, helping me through every step. I do not think I have ever learned more in such a short period of time than I did with my host family. My favorite memory with my host family was after a birthday lunch for my host sister, my host siblings and their cousins all hung out in the living room and talked about their social lives. While this memory may seem unimportant, it was one of the first times I was able to engage in a conversation and connect with my host siblings and that meant the world to me. Retrospectively, I am very grateful they did not speak English because it put me in a situation where my only option was to learn and grow. Despite the struggles, I also had some very fond memories with them and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
To culminate the program, we traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There we met with the U.S. ambassador to Argentina and discussed his career path and how our exchanges went with our host families. We also explored the city and visited La Casa Rosada, a human rights museum, and the former church of the Pope, La Catedral Metropolitana. About three days later, we boarded an overnight flight to Atlanta and I had to say goodbye to some of the best people I had ever met.
The Youth Ambassador program gave me an new perspective on the world and the different cultures inside of it. It brought to my attention the way other countries view the United States and how incorrectly the U.S. views other cultures. It brought me very close to people from all different backgrounds within the U.S., teaching me again how diverse the U.S. is and how that is one of our strongest assets. I learned more about the world, society and culture in the three and a half weeks of the Youth Ambassador program than I could ever learn in months of school, and for that I am forever grateful.
More info on Youth Ambassadors:
The Youth Ambassador program is run by World Learning, a non-profit facet of the State Department. The program is also completely funded by the State Department so the participants never pay for flights, hotels or food throughout the trip. Any high school student across the U.S. can apply for the program and each year around 150 students are selected to participate. World Learning sends programs to various countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean with about 10-12 students in each country. The program was the best and most rewarding experience of my life and I have friends across the United States and Argentina as a result of it. I encourage anyone interested in applying to do so! I am always beyond happy to talk about my experience so please reach out to me with any questions about the program or applying.
Check out there website for more: https://www.worldlearning.org/program/youth-ambassadors-program/
This is a student-led, student-written, and student-edited blog about happenings in the AIS program at CHS, features about our students, as well as other topics of global concern. Check back frequently for more great content!
Have an comments or ideas for blog posts?
Contact: Mr. Schendt (AIS Director), Isabel Simmons (Student Editor) or Kai Nilsen (Student Editor).