If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life. —
On Tuesday, after 3 months of compiling and editing the work of Christ the King’s 4th grade class, I went back to the school and presented the students with their very first book of poetry. Every poem in the book was written by the students as they each expressed pride and veneration for their culture and heritage. The book, titled De Donde Vengo Yo, captures beautifully the admiration these students have for who they are and where they’re from. With poems that describe the pristine beaches of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic to poems that educate on the Great Wall of China, to poems that entice with the wonderful food of Nicaragua, De Donde Vengo Yo reminds the reader that no matter what your ancestral background is, you should always be proud of your history.
When I decided that I would publish the book for these students my goal was to print professional copies of the book (I enlisted a professional graphic designer, Sal Acosta, who designed the book cover pro-bono) and give each of the students their very own copy because I wanted them to have something tangible. I wanted them to see their names and words in print and I wanted them to know that their words matter. I wanted to show them that I believed in them and my hope was that they would start believing in themselves.
There is no greater joy or no feeling more rewarding than what one feels when you do something good for someone else. The looks on the faces of the students when my sister and Where I’m From Foundation for the Arts (WIFFA) co-founder Diana Olmedo and I presented them with their books was priceless. There are no perfect words to adequately express what that moment felt like for me, but it was by far the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. You could see the light in their eyes and their faces beaming with pride as they anxiously opened the book each eager to see their names and their words in print. Looking at them reminded me of all the great teachers in my life who believed in me and encouraged me and told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. Teachers you are so important and I commend you all for the work that you do.
Being able to present the school with a check for their computer lab was such an honor for my sister and I. We both strongly believe that in order for children to perform to the best of their abilities and be successful they must have the necessary resources and tools. We can’t tell our children to be great and then not give them what they need to realize their full potential. We hope that with the new computer lab the children will continue to write, research, and seek out new and creative ways to do things. They indeed are our future and I am committed to helping as many of them succeed as I can. All it takes is one person to show them that they care and that will make all the difference.
“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing nothing for nobody.” ~ Malcom Bane
**Bronx News 12 covered our story and interviewed some of the students. Below is the link to the video news story that aired on Bronx 12 as well as the written article.