Identity Magazine Written by Oakland International High School Students Gets to the Heart of Identity
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
Identity means different things to different people. Some identify with their home country. Some identify with their religion. Some identify with family traditions, language and culture. But identity can change when big life events happen and one moves to another country to find a new life or move on from a past one.
Once again, Oakland International High School (OIHS) has created a publication that tells personal stories from the student’s point of view. This time it’s a student-made online magazine from the 12th grade reading class (supported by the OIHS ACE Learning Center) and published by Issuu, a digital publishing platform. The magazine’s name is Identity and it’s full of student stories that give insight into the difficulties of moving to the US and learning English but also joyful stories of how students define and keep in touch with their identity.
Their stories are told in a collection of short interviews, essays, question and answer formats, even poems and a graphic cartoon. The stories range from making friends to dealing with emotions of anger and sadness and how to control those emotions. It also includes many types of cultural joys including cooking traditional foods (several recipes), music, art, fashion, sexuality (including LGBTQI) and cultural highlights of religion and celebration.
The beauty is the honesty of how the students reference their lives and identities. It is hard to learn English, hard to make friends, but there is an understanding that working hard and keeping focused on school is key to success. It’s once again a real reflection of the supportive work the teachers and administration do at OIHS and the positive results for each student’s success based on their personal identity. As poet Rut Valquezwrote in the last stanza of his poem, What is Identity?
Is this me? I’m walking, building a warm home and full of hope inside me.
Identity, the fountain of this garden that gives me a meaning to life.
Identity is soul, identity is discovery, identity is not masks, identity is history.
Identity is passion, identity is art. Identity was born, and became a living being.
I am an identity.
Congratulations OIHS 12th grade reading class. Another great publishing success. Read Identity here.