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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living In An Amish Paradise: My School Visit to Lancaster

So, no, I did not get to do a Creative Writing Workshop in a one-room schoolhouse in the heart of Amish country. Though I do think that would make for an awesome school visit. Imagine: I could teach them that there are books in the world other than the bible, and they could teach me how to churn butter and raise a barn in a single day. It’s a win-win.



But alas, I don’t think many urban Latina authors get invited into that world. I did, however, get invited to visit J.P. McCaskey High School in the Lancaster, PA School District. It’s a slightly different population—in that the students are multicultural, they wear buttons, they don’t ride in horse and buggies, and there wasn’t a straw hat in sight. In a nutshell, they’re very cool American teenagers—only surrounded by more farm land (and more outlet shopping).

The school was amazing. They did a fantastic job promoting the event. It was hosted in the library by their wonderful librarian, Samantha Simatos, and about 45 students attended. It was my biggest workshop group ever, and consequently we did run a bit long, but thankfully that was mostly do to all of the killer ideas the students suggested.

They created a very clever young adult story based on a set of twins caught in a love-hate relationship when each is raised by a separate parent—one by the mom, and one by the dad. It creates a whole lot of drama.

I was really impressed by the imaginations of the students, and I’m happy to report that one student already contacted me to tell me that she started writing her own version of the story. Feedback doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Plus all of the students got a signed copy of “Amigas and School Scandals.”

It was a fun day, and I thank everyone who put it together! Next time, I’ll try to keep Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise” from playing in my head on the drive out there.



POP CULTURE RANT: So You Think You Can Dance

Yeah, I know everyone’s still talking about the American Idol upset (I personally was rooting Adam, too), but I’m more excited about the debut of its reality counterpart—So You Think You Can Dance! I seriously heart this show. Every time I watch it, it makes me want to learn a Mia Michaels routine (and not die trying). So everyone, let’s get on the SYTYCD conga line. I’m already cheering for Katie’s roommate, Natalie. Girl’s a shoe-in for the Top 20.

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