School is out for the summer, and for the past three years local OC youth have taken the time off to hone their literary skills as Barrio Writers. The non-profit reading and writing program aims at utilizing creative expression as a means of empowerment and this year it's partnering with Cal State Fullerton!
Started in 2009 by SanTanera author Sarah Rafael García, thirty students came together for workshops and evolved into published authors in their own right with the first edition release of the Barrio Writers anthology collection. García has since moved on to Austin, Texas where she has started another chapter of the program teaming with the local university, but the program's OC roots remain strong.
The Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at Cal State Fullerton is stepping up and will play host to Barrio Writers this summer. A free one-week program is set to begin on August 6 with three hour long workshops, field trips, and a public reading scheduled for August 11 to wrap up the intensive activities. “I'll be returning to Orange County to teach the workshops,” says García. “I'm already emailing recruitment packets to local libraries, teachers and community organizers.” And if you're an interested youth reading this now you can also directly contact the program through its website.
Before all of that gets rolling, Barrio Writers will also be participating in a Higher Education Diversity Panel held at the campus on July 28 with the intent of establishing the summer program as a bridge for enrollment.
Voice of OC is also teaming up with the creative writing effort by providing internship and publication opportunities. Look out for Barrio Writer graduate Marilynn Montano's byline coming to an article near you. She has already recently appeared on Univision alongside García speaking about her experiences in the program in a short interview segment with news anchor Leon Krauze. Montano will also be teaching workshops alongside her mentor.
Even with the new partnerships for both chapters this year, Barrio Writers is still very much in need of funds to ensure the vitality of its program. “We still striving to raise $10,000 to offer various opportunities to students,” García adds. Donations go towards providing pencils, laptops, transportation and publishing costs to cover followup editions of the annual anthology.
Of course, there is the ambition, as well, to create two, three…many more chingón chapters in the summers to come!
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.