This morning I finished my second and final year as a Writer-in-Residence with the Toronto District School Board. It has been, without question, one of the highlights of my writing life. I want to thank the coordinator Ruth Hall and all the spectacular teachers, librarians and students who have made me feel so welcome.
I have always said that what makes my day is visiting a school group of racially diverse students who don’t think I look like an “author” when I arrive but who are quite sure that I do (and they do too) by the time I leave. I know that many of the children I meet are being steered away from the arts by ﬁrst-generation immigrant families that want, and often need, their children to acquire social legitimacy and financial stability through their professions. I know that many of these children feel the roar of parental expectations and I hope that I (and others) can represent another path.
Today, nearly half of the 150 kids I met said they want to be writers one day. This makes me feel very hopeful (even if they were lying)! We need more diverse writers just as we need more diverse stories.
(Illustration by trailblazer Gyo Fujikawa, who I also mention here.)