For the past 2 Mondays at the Island Girl Power facility in Dededo, Guam, I have been teaching a creative writing class to the adult volunteers. The thrift store is closed on Mondays and reserved for training if it is available. I am used to having to work harder to get students to write. This class of about 10 adults is the best class ever.
When I was working on the Pulani project this past summer, one of the actors, who was at the time new to Island Girl Power and has since joined the staff there, asked me to be her writing mentor. I was so touched.
Like other adults who had found their way to the Island Girl Power program, her life had been a struggle. She was such a help at Pulani, not only as an actor, but helping backstage, doing odd jobs, and making costumes. I found out that she is an avid reader and can often be found in the book section of the thrift store giving book recommendations.
When she found out that I was returning to Guam, she asked if I would give a creative writing workshop. I have given two so far. The first one was on simple story writing and the second one was on free verse poetry. The structure of the workshop is basically that I share my own work, and talk about the inspiration for it. I give a few guidelines, but mostly I just encourage them to write whatever story or idea they feel they want to write about.
And they write. It is such a thrill to see it. Pens on paper, silence, writing. After a while, you can tell that most are done, and then we share. Their stories and poems are slices of their lives, their hearts. We laugh, we cry. We beam. I don't think I am necessarily a great teacher, but I am in a good place, with good people, who are ripe for this.
I do think there is something life-nourishing, healing, and direction-setting about writing. This is where these adults are in their life journeys. They have had struggles, and now they are in a safe place here at Island Girl Power. It is a place where they can bloom.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.