In June I graduated high school, and in a few weeks I’ll be moving out of my parents’ home and beginning college. Summer is drawing to a close and reflecting back on it, Culture Writing 101 was one of the coolest (although it was pretty hot) parts of my summer.
The first class was right after my freshman orientation at the University of Washington Seattle campus. I got stuck in rush-hour traffic and ended up being late to the first day! But the minute I walked in, I felt welcome. As I sat down and was greeted by the lovely Ijeoma Oluo, our teacher, I immediately felt like this was where I belonged. We discussed current events and news items and I found myself among peers who shared my opinions and love and passion for social justice that I’ve felt all my life. At my predominantly white, suburban, middle-class high school, people often care more about prom or football games than police brutality or LGBTQIA+ issues. In this class I even found people who read the same feminist blogs as I did!
Never did I think I’d be writing a piece about the female Republican support for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but this class gave me that opportunity. After writing that first assignment, I handed it in worried it was the worst thing I had ever written, and was surprised to know that I had actually made quite a good argument and was given one-on-one constructive feedback on how to make it an even stronger piece.
A number of unrelated events and my busy summer schedule kept me from attending every class, but the classes I did attend, there was nowhere I would have rather been. Our teacher, Ijeoma, had this wonderful way of making me feel like I had a voice that mattered that my previous high school classes lacked.
I live somewhat far from Seattle, and there was no direct bus from my home to the class location. I found myself having to leave at about 3 pm (the class started at 5:30) because of the rush hour traffic in the scalding hot summer sun in my parents’ 20-year old Honda with a broken AC, and yet, it was totally worth it.
I walk away from Culture Writing 101 with the idea that writing is not some far off, distant, unattainable profession reserved for people with beards who live in far off cabins in the middle of the woods. I still have lots to learn, but Culture Writing helped me feel prepared to take on the world of writing.