Meg Medina, a Cuban-American author, visited Fort Smith schools in January to discuss the writing process, Latino culture, and her award-winning young adult novels. Prior to her visit, all ELL students received a copy of Medina’s novel The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, which is written in magical realism style. At Kimmons, Medina told the student body about how excited she had been in college when finally seeing Latino culture incorporated in books like Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. This discovery inspired Medina to start writing novels focused on Latino culture and the problems of teens pulling away from family.
“The thing that I liked best about Meg Medina is that she uses her own experiences while writing because it makes her books more real and relateable,” Ateya Wright, 9th, said.
When she returned to Kimmons in the evening, Medina met with parents and signed copies of her novels.
“Medina said some things in Spanish which helped me understand a little of her presentation,” Eliza Santiago, 8th grade ELL student, said.
Fellow ELL student Guadalupe Perez-Cardoso, 8th, shared Eliza’s enthusiasm.
“My favorite part was when she explained about her books because that made me want to learn more English to be able to read them and understand them,” Guadalupe said.
Medina went into more detail about her novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your A** which addresses the theme of bullying, something Medina experienced first-hand as a teenager.
“I loved how Medina went through stuff I’m going through right now,” Lesley Meza, 9th, said. “When she writes, Medina makes me feel loved and helps me remember the true colors of my culture as if I were home again.”
In addition to young adult novels, Medina also write children’s books, such as Tia Isa Wants a Car, which was based on Medina’s own aunt.
“I liked when Mrs. Meg Medina talked about her Aunt Isa not knowing how to drive,” Mariely Nieto-Silva, 8th, said. “The rosary part was very funny, too.”
Ines Rubles, ELL Program Coordinator, helped bring Medina To Fort Smith. Mrs. Rubles believes that Medina’s visit benefited Latino students because they could identify with Medina’s characters and non-Latino students because they could see that “we are not that different from one another after all.” All students received an important message.
“We all have problems, barriers to conquer,” Mrs. Rubles said. “No matter what obstacles are put in front you — a new language, a new culture, or life situation, you can succeed if you work hard and focus on what you want to accomplish. Ms. Medina is an example of this.”