For the third year in a row, English 12 students in Mrs. Maggie Kozicharow Spak's '98 English class participated in The One Heart Program, where Holton seniors discuss literary works with students from other schools. The title of the program is inspired by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Prize speech line "I am cheered by a vital awareness of World Literature as of a single huge heart, beating out the cares and troubles of our world, albeit presented and perceived differently in each of its corners." The overarching goal of this unique program is to gain a different perspective on literature by talking to non-Holton students, particularly before leaving for college.
Mrs. Spak has paired her English 12 students with public school students for the past two years. This year, though, the intention is to expand the program to include other partnerships (with the hope that other English 12 classes will participate later this year in other ways). Thus, Mrs. Spak's Sixties Protest Literature class paired with the five visiting San Silvestre students from Peru to read poems exploring questions surrounding the purpose of art. In a discussion over lunch and coffee at the Potter's House in D.C, students read a South American writer, Chilean Pablo Neruda, and an American, E. Ethelbert Miller. Students grappled with what a writer's responsibility is during times of social injustice or political unrest. The Holton and San Silvestre girls analyzed the poems together and discussed the legacy and future of protest literature in their own countries.
Below are some reflections from Holton English 12 students and San Silvestre students from Peru:
Betsy Schugar '18: "I really liked involving non-Holton girls in the discussion. Since Holton is such a politically vocal and active community, we kind of know most of our classmates' viewpoints on a lot of issues. But by including the Peru students, there were new viewpoints that came from knowledge of a totally different political climate, which added a lot to the conversation. But at the same time it was also interesting to see what ideas and perspectives we shared."
San Silvestre student Marina Rondòn: "I really enjoyed this experience as we got to share views on the same topic. It is surprising how people from different countries can think so differently but so similar at the same time. It was interesting getting to know how they experienced poetry and contrast and compare it to my own."
San Silvestre student Valeria Carranza: "I was able to learn a lot in this experience. I learned a lot more about American history and slavery, which I found shocking. I could become more knowledgeable on history but also open-minded to other people's opinions, particularly from people who are from a completely different culture. I enjoyed being able to pass on knowledge about my own country's past. I have mainly learned the huge impact that literature has and all the history it may have behind it."
Kaitlyn Pham '18: "I really enjoyed this activity! It was very interesting and fun to get a chance to meet the Peruvian students and to discuss the poems with them. They gave us a lot of insight into what literature is like in Peru and the effect it has."
San Silvestre student Fernanda Cipriani: "I think that it was quite nice to have this type of discussion/experience with someone from another country. The meaning and understanding of our conversations were deepened by each other's background knowledge from our home countries."
Laila Syed '18: "I really enjoyed this discussion because it provided me with a different perspective on topics we discuss within our classroom at Holton. I also think the poetry we discussed and the questions we had were very reflective of issues going on right now."
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