Last February we used Vista Nueva High School’s experience of having Dr. Victor Rios visit their school on our weekly SMILE material. The 10-12th grade students read Dr. Rios’ book “Street Life: Poverty, Gangs and a Ph.D.” before meeting him.
Erin McChesney, chair of the English Language Arts Department and teacher of creative writing to the seniors, later wrote us that Dr. Rios’ visit had an “amazingly profound influence on our kids! I’ve included a sample of their thank you letters, as, their words are more powerful than mine. A wonderful opportunity for them – a heartfelt thank you to DREAM from Vista staff, students and families.”
Here are pieces from some of the students’ thank yous:
Fernando wrote: “I didn’t believe that I could have a bright future and that because I’m Mexican that the only thing the future holds for me is mowing lawns or selling dope like older people that were in my life did but, I learned not to follow anyone else’s footsteps but make my own steps to succeed. Like you I like to surround myself with people who want to succeed in life and have goals in life. You really inspired me to continue following my dreams. You showed me the light to the possibility of becoming successful.”
from Daniel: “One of the parts of your book that impacted me the most was when you said that you made a list of where you see yourself in five to ten years and you didn’t allow yourself to put anything negative on it. Reading that caused me to make my own list of where I see myself in five to ten years. I no longer just want to work as a mechanic, I want to do bigger things with my life that I know I’m capable of doing. I now want to go to a University. I’ve now surrounded myself with people who support me.”
Bianca shared: “After reading your book I found I began to think and see things differently. Now I have an ambition, a goal, but most importantly a dream. I have decided to become a school psychologist and just like you, I will write a book like yours but in a girl’s point of view. Thank you for the amazing book you wrote for us, the youth. It was an honor to have met you.”
and lastly, from Angeles: “I am also Hispanic. I think that’s what kept me from trying is the fact that I wasn’t born here. College is expensive and I thought I didn’t have a chance. Listening to you proved to me that I do have a chance to be in a good college. I hope you are blessed with more good things in your life.”