The Power of a Teacher-Writer’s Voice

Yesterday morning, I received the kind of email every writing teacher loves to read. A former student of mine, Jowan Nabha, let me know the piece she planned to NOT publish just had to be submitted! I love it when a teacher-writer discovers the power of her voice. The following is Jowan’s invited blog post:

In the Fall of 2017 I enrolled in the course EXPS 298, Writing to Communicate, Learn and Teach. Throughout this course we were given tools and taught skills on effective writing to communicate and learn for personal and professional purposes. Midway through the semester we were given an assignment to write an argumentative piece on the topic of our choosing.

Domestic violence, in all its forms, is a topic that some might find cliché; however, it’s a topic that continuously plagues our society. Every culture, every race, struggles with domestic violence in its own unique way. For me, as an Arab American woman, I felt it was my duty to speak up for the women who have been marginalized in my community—the women who seek help but feel there is no help.

I hoped that if even one man or one mother of young boys read my paper they would understand the devastation that domestic violence has done to our culture and seek change within themselves and their community.

Domestic violence is embedded deep into our roots to the point that some see it as a norm. To many, this is not abuse and my piece stirs controversy, including within my own family. So when I decided to write this piece, I understood I was exposing much about my own experiences and much about experiences that many consider taboo to discuss. I didn’t care. I had done my research and was certain of my piece.

When I received a grade beyond my anticipation and with it a recommendation to submit to publish, I was floored. It was an honor to have my piece recognized. So now, roughly six months after starting this piece, I have finally brought myself to submit it to a website for consideration to publish. Waiting for a response is probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences ever. Feelings haunt me:

Will they hate it?

Will my experiences be minimalized?

How will people perceive my own life?

I woke up Sunday morning at 7am and decided that it there was no more time to waste. I want my voice to be heard. I’m tired of waiting for someone else to tell a story similar to mine when I am more than able to share with the world my story and perhaps have someone relate to me.

With the knots in my stomach and a coffee cup in my hand, I clicked send and put myself out there for the world to judge. Who knows? They may love it. Or they may hate it. Either way, I’m proud of the piece I wrote and am certain that even with rejection, good things will come out of this piece.

Jowan Nabha

Journaling With My Daughters

One highlight of my daughter’s sixth birthday is her new family dialogue journal. She picked out her composition notebook covered in rainbow hearts on Saturday morning’s shopping trip. I planned to wrap it, but she snuck it out of the bag and beat me to the first entry!

4-28-18_Dayana Entry.jpg

She knew the treasure she held in her hands as she has observed her older sister write letters back and forth to me for the past few years.