I recently had the privilege of traveling to Huaycan, Peru to work with Lara DeVries and her team of volunteers in The Light and Leadership Initiative.
When Lara picked me up at the airport in Lima we had more than an hour to talk in the cab on our way to Hauycan. She asked me a lot of questions about what I do and I told her about my passion for poetry back in the States in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I asked Lara if we could set up a poetry reading in one of her classrooms and the answer was a big Yes.
The word went out to everyone in the house, they told the people in their various classes and we got about fifteen people to show up. Some came with poems ready to go but most arrived nervous with blank notebooks. So we started with a thirty minute workshop. I gave some very simple guidelines for poetry and storytelling to the group and their pens and pencils started moving. It didn’t take long before everybody had something to share.
Some were very eager to get up and read. Some took a little encouragement and some took a lot of encouragement. There were one or two that wouldn’t read but that’s ok. The first time I went to a reading I was terrified and couldn’t imagine reading in front of anyone. But that’s proof of the intensity of it. Sharing your own words is one of the most powerful things you can do and there can be some mighty walls of fear in the way. But a safe space and friendly and encouraging faces act like drops of water on a stone that eventually splits it open. After that, ones own passion takes over and does the rest.
Most of those that came for our workshop in Huaycan are part of LLI’s English classes, but poems were read equally in Spanish and English. In a big show of support many of the volunteers in the house also came and participated. I am so grateful to Lara and the rest of my new friends at the LLI house for giving me this opportunity to share what I’m passionate about with Huaycan!
What an incredible and inspiring night!
Here’s a little video of me reading “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein to some of these amazing kids in one of LLI’s English classes in Huaycan. Each kid got copies of this poem an others to take home with them.