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Home | Tag Archives: Do the Write Thing

Tag Archives: Do the Write Thing

YWA student to represent El Paso in Do the Write Thing

Rising YWA freshwoman Aina Marzia’s essay characterizing her perspective and thoughts on standing up to violence took top honors in the area Do the Write Thing competition to become one of two Ambassadors of Peace representing El Paso.

Aina tapped into her knowledge of her native Pakistan, the world’s 13th most dangerous country. She talks about being fortunate not to experience violence first hand but acknowledges the pain felt by Pakistani children and the suffering of her own family members back home.

“I hate to admit it, but this stigma on my background has changed the way people see me as a person,” she wrote. “Most will see a young girl…but some will see an alien, an immigrant, or possibly even a terrorist. These characteristics don’t define me, and never will, because violence is seen everywhere, no one should be defined by their background but by the people they choose to become.”

A committee comprised of UTEP professors, judges, lawyers, representatives from the District Attorney’s Office and counselors from across the El Paso area read and identified the top two ambassadors for this year to represent El Paso.

Aina is joined by Jamin Paz from Canutillo ISD as the city’s two ambassadors who beat out more than 8,000 other students’ essays.

“Ambassadors are selected based on their essays, making sure they include all three important sections in their essays—experiences with violence, what causes violence and their commitment to end violence in their homes, schools and or communities,” said UTEP professor Dr. Josefina V. Tinajero, director of the program in El Paso. “Reviewers look at the content, interest, completeness, power of the message in each essay and scored them.  Aina Marzia wrote the best essay from more than 8,000 submitted this year.”

Aina structured her essay in a way to make her readers think.

“I want people to understand why violence has become a pandemic and how the little things we do matter,” she said. “We never realize the importance of something until it happens to us. When people read my essay, I want them feel as if they are obligated to do something about the issues we face.”

Aina’s essay touched on violence both in her home country and the horrific events in El Paso nearly a year ago on Aug. 3 at the Cielo Vista Walmart.

“My thoughts were inspired by many things but most importantly by my drive to make a difference,” she said. “I enjoy writing about world issues because I feel like I am impacting or hopefully changing my society. This topic however, helped me address both my birth country and the country that I live in because violence is seen everywhere just in different forms.”

She would ordinarily be honored in Washington, DC next week but the organization is trying to determine how to virtually recognize her and the other winners throughout the country.

Story by Reneé De Santos – EPISD

Henderson Students win local Do the Write Thing Competition

Two Henderson Middle School seventh-graders earned the Ambassador Award for the Do the Write Thing challenge Saturday, beating hundreds of students for the right to represent El Paso in a national competition.

Martha Rios and Joe Gonzalez will represent EPISD and El Paso in Washington, D.C., this summer. EPISD had 8 students qualify for the local tournament, including students from Henderson, Armendariz and Magoffin middle schools.

“Henderson is a force to be reckoned with. It’s nice for the students to see they can do it,” language arts teacher Bianca Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t matter from what side of town you come from, or what school you go to, as long as your heart is in it, you can do it.”

The Do the Write Thing program was launched by the National Campaign to Stop Violence to encourage middle-school students to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives. Teachers are provided with a lesson plan for classroom discussion and a writing assignment for students to begin the conversation on what can be done to reduce youth violence.

EPISD English and Language Arts facilitator Lisa Lyons shared the happy moment with the students.

042417Henderson010 copy“When it was announced that never in the history of the El Paso DTWT Program have the Ambassador Awards been selected from the same school, I was overcome with a wave of gratitude for the students’ accomplishments and sheer joy as I witnessed the ear to ear smiles beaming on their faces,” Lyons said. “I hope that Martha and Joe learned that through the power of the pen and the words they weaved together, their thoughts will be read and heard far beyond the projection of their voices.”

Rios focused on the bullying aspect of youth violence for her essay, writing about her own personal experience with bullying.

“I wrote about bullying, my experience with it and what we can do to help, as well as some ideas on how to prevent tragedies,” Rios said.

She was overcome with emotion when they called her name at the recognition reception.

“My heart stopped, and I felt like crying,” Rios said. “I’m looking forward to the national competition. We are going to compete with students from all over the U.S. who are also finalists.”

Rodriguez was not surprised Rios received the award.

“Since day one, she’s been an amazing writer. I had a feeling she was going to be selected because she put in so much emotion and personality,” Rodriguez said. “This was a very special topic for her so she really connected with it. She 100 percent deserves this award. I’m so proud of her.”

Student Joe Gonzalez also wrote about the bullying and how it has impacted close friends.

“I have many friends that have been bullied,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s important to talk about these issues and share this message with others.”

Gonzalez feels nervous to present on such a personal subject, but he is looking forward to meeting other like-minded students.

Teacher Luis Lopez is proud of the seventh-grader, noting a discernible change in his confidence after participating in the writing contest.

“He has a quiet confidence about him. He doesn’t talk in class much, but he’s very perceptive,” Lopez said. “Now he’s walking tall, and I think he’s realizing the kinds of doors this opens.”

Lopez had confidence in his student’s piece and was beyond happy for Gonzalez when he received the Ambassador Award.

“I immediately knew it was a strong piece when I read it,” Lopez said. “It just had so much emotion that it jumped off the page.”

The students will present their essays during National Recognition Week to national leaders, such as the Secretary of Education and the Attorney General of the United States, among others. Their writings will also be published and placed in the Library of Congress.

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