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Write Who You Are

Listing Last Update: January 12, 2017


1100 Harvard St NW
The Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
Washington, DC 20009

Primary Contact

Kristen Zory King

(301) 654-8664

Educational services

  • To read and write better
  • To learn English

Instruction Type

  • Classroom

File uploads

Program Overview

Since 2015 The Writer's Center has organized and funded the Write Who You Are program through which English language learners at the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School give voice to the stories that immigration statistics do not. Students work with a local author to study poetry and the personal essay as powerful vehicles for exploring who they are, honing literacy skills learned in the school's cutting edge ESL and workforce development curriculum. The majority have never taken part in any form of creative writing prior to the program.

Endeavoring to preserve their identity in the course of integrating a new culture and economy, participants write about work, family, their home countries, their vision of community, and the internal conflicts wrought by displacement. Their stories represent the landscape of newcomers in an ever-evolving America and the power of literature and fellowship to give those who are often invisible a voice.

Approximately 80 students participate in the program each year by taking part in a weekly course that spans the entire academic semester as well as a noontime drop-in writers' group.

"If poetry can make a tiny positive wave on the lake of human beings and society, if it can make us and anything around us warm and healthy, then the value of poetry seems to be enough."—Eunjin, a student from the program

Mission Statement

The Writer's Center cultivates the creation, publication, presentation, and dissemination of literary work. We are an independent literary organization with a global reach, rooted in a dynamic community of writers. As one of the premier centers of our kind in the country, we believe the craft of writing is open to people of all backgrounds and ages. Writing is interdisciplinary and unique among the arts for its ability to touch on all aspects of the human experience. It enriches
our lives and opens doors to knowledge and understanding.

Hours of operation: Varies depending on class schedule

Cost info: The Writer's Center partners with the school to include creative writing workshops during English language learning courses at the Charter School for adults. Some funding is provided by the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the school chips in a little, and The Writer's Center bears the bulk of the cost, which is primarily for instructor salary.

Student and Volunteer Success Stories

"If poetry can make a tiny bit positive wave on the lake of human beings and society, if it can make us and anything around us warm and healthy, then the value of poetry seems to be enough."—Eunjin, Write Who You Are participant

"If it takes six weeks to write one poem, that's okay," said program instructor Naomi Ayala. "I've been doing this for a long time, and I'm still captivated. Everybody has their own story. It will live long after the program. These students will become less invisible. That invisibility can be incapacitating."

"Before the "Write Who You Are Program", our students rarely had the opportunity to develop this story to its fullest potential, says Jorge Delgado, the Sonia Gutierrez Campus principal. "Through this program, students are able to improve their writing and language usage by writing poetry and essays in the form of personal narratives. Students also learn the value of feedback and collaboration through participation in student-centered focused feedback groups."

Program’s Demographics/Metrics

Students at the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School range in age from 17 to 85, come from 73 countries and speak 57 languages. An overwhelming majority live below the poverty level. Write Who You Are program participants are drawn from this pool--writing poetry and personal essays in their advandce English classes.

Program Status: