CT Writing Project 2017
connecticut Writing Project 2017
Five exceptional young women - Sunni, Juanita, Erika, Ashantii, and Autumn - from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota, along with their literature teacher, Mrs. Kelly Bessette, spent two weeks this summer in Connecticut. They were the winners of an essay contest hosted by Simply Smiles and the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University, an affiliate of the National Writing Project. The two-week program at Fairfield was called "Project Citizen" and taught participating high school students how to find their voice and write their lives through different forms of advocacy writing.
Check out some of the highlights below of the students' experience in the program, especially their insightful poetry from their workshop, plus other moments from their trip to the East Coast - including a trip to New York City, the beaches of the Connecticut shoreline, travel by trains, planes, subway... and lots of swimming!
(Scroll over or tap the images to read captions)
A visit to Fairfield & getting started
Proud to be me / Lakota / Native American, not Hawaiian or Alaskan / But Sioux, I do me…you do you. / American Indian, First Nation / Indigenous, indigenous no matter where I go…
- an excerpt from Erika's poem, Running With My Nature
catching up with old and new friends
For a more in-depth discussion of the trip and the philosophy of Simply Smiles, be sure to listen to Simply Smiles Founder and President Bryan Nurnberger's interview with Tiokasin Ghosthorse on First Voices Indigenous Radio.
New York City Bound
celebrating self-expression & identity
Most of our language and culture was taken away from us in the past, but we fought and stood up for ourselves and got some of it back. Now when people see us in public, they get all surprised and ask us if we still live in tipis and hunt buffalo....Our lives haven’t been easy, but it’s gotten a little better.
- an excerpt from Ashantii's piece on the Lakota language
The following poem, In Resistance, Standing Against The Bull, is the culmination of the students' two-week writing exercises, rooted in themes of Lakota culture and identity:
(click or tap the poem to enlarge)
To read more of the work produced by the students, please click here.
This trip would not have been possible without the generosity and kindness of our Simply Smiles community! Thank you!
Thank you to all who sponsored the trip!
And, a special thank you to The National Writing Project, The Connecticut Writing Project, Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall, CWP-Fairfield's director, and the staff of the CWP-Fairfield program, Fairfield University, Dr. Peter Bayers, the Nurnberger, Rotatori and Berry families, Kristen Graves, Alex Gross, Tiokasin Ghosthorse & Jadina Lilien, and Kelly Bessette.