Facing History Digital Media Studio: Letters

In Facing History School”s Digital Media studio class with teaching artist Caits Meissner, students are working on an ambitious group project: an empowering visual and written group letter to youth around the world who are facing gross injustices.

We just finished our research and writing stage of the project: letters. The assignment was to research a human injustice of their choice that affects teens through out the world. Child prostitution, labor, soldiers, female circumcision, drought and famine, repression of freedom of speech. After researching, they each invented a character based on their findings that give a personal face and a story to their population.

Prompt: On the next page, using this information as a guide, write a letter to your character. A love letter, not in the romantic way, but in a way that tells them they are important. What can the person oppressing NOT take from them? (Their spirit, their heart, their intelligence.) What is beautiful about them? What do you respect about them. Write it to your character as if they are a real person. Put emotion and feeling into it. Support them.

These letters will be combined and transformed into one larger voice. But first, in celebration of our individual letters being written, read Megan De La Cruz”s letter to a child soldier:

Dear Ashane,

I’m Megan, and I’ve heard of your story. Your struggle, wondering to yourself why out of all people, family am I put in this situation. I know your strengths Ashane. I know your abilities and the promises to yourself that will never come true. Ashane, I know your hardship and what they do to you, The position that these men put you in. I know your brother, how you two were always different. I know how he treats you and how much respect and dishonor you have for him, as well. Ashane, I am writing this because I know that life as it is can be hard. You feel forced into this society that you know is wrong and at such a young age, that is called wisdom and power on your part. You show your strength through your silence and your ability to know where you stand. While you are being judged and controlled into things unspeakable, I know in your heart you stay with the same warm heart that knows what is only pure.

Your brother, is different as you may know. A gun was but a simple concept. One that he could escape in, one that he could bury his true feelings online casino in. because Ashane, even though he seems as if he doesn’t care about how u feel or he insults you for not knowing how to hold a gun properly, he loves you. Even though he has threatened to shoot you himself, deep down he wants what’s best for you, even though he doesn’t know what’s best for him.

And your mother, I know it may seem as if she doesn’t care enough to stop what has happened. It is not her fault, neither yours. She had no choice and as a good mother she wanted the best for you, even if that means you being a child soldier other than being killed then that’s what she did. I know she loves you unconditionally and it breaks her heart knowing that this kind of lifestyle is obviously unfit for you and your brother Bayya.

Ashane, I am writing this letter to give you faith. I know how much you like to write and how you express yourself with words, you can. I want you to be able to express yourself and know that this will become better, this will go away if you keep believing in yourself and stay true to who are really are. Don’t keep those thoughts of running away, those secret journeys you wish to take, write it down and let those feelings wash away with all the hate you have towards those men. Think about the positive and not the fears of Babi (Mother) dying. Or Bayya, staying the way he is, masked in war and guns. I know you are not religious, because you hadn’t gotten the chance to be informed about god, but if there was something to help you, it would be something to believe in. Just know Ashane, that there are people who care very much about you and we want you to not lose hope and don’t lose faith in what you believe is right. Thank you Ashane for changing the way I think and the way I care for people like you. You will be in my heart forever.

Megan De La Cruz