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NC State Education Assistant Professor Helps Juntos 4-H Students Publish Book of Personal Narratives

Photo of Juntos NC student authors signing copies of their recently published book.

Started as an initial project among NC State College of Education Assistant Professor Crystal Chen Lee, Juntos NC State Extension Program Director Juana Hernandez-Urquiza, and Wake County Coordinator Beatriz Velazquez, “The Roots of Our People: From One World to Another” explores the ways in which Juntos students write narratives that individually and collectively weave their stories from the Latinx community together.

Juntos is a program in North Carolina that works to unite community partners to provide Latino eighth through 12th grade students and their parents with knowledge, skills and resources to prevent youth from dropping out of school and to encourage families to work together to gain access to higher education. The underlying foundation for this project was to allow Juntos students to find their voice in the community and to share their past, present and future experiences as immigrant and first-generation students.

In February 2018, Juntos students of South Garner High School in Garner, North Carolina, formed a writing club to write the bilingual book by meeting every week for three months. With Lee’s assistance, they published the book to demonstrate the strength in immigrant populations.

The book is organized in five chapters:

  1. poetry on the roots of immigrant families;
  2. memoirs on immigrant communities;
  3. tributes to people who influenced the students;
  4. letters to the community on the needs of Latino students; and
  5. the meaning and value of Juntos NC.

In the book, student authors explore identity, discrimination and the challenges they face as immigrants. Many of the authors live halfway between their Mexican and/or Nicaraguan raices — roots — and their American present, recognizing and celebrating their heritage all while asking for full inclusion and admission to the American community at large.

Multiple stakeholders in education — families, community leaders and school leaders — attended the annual Juntos NC Family Night on May 24, 2018, to celebrate the book’s release and hear readings from the authors.

To acquire a copy of “The Roots of Our People,” email Nancy Marks.

Written by John Bennet, Intern, Juntos NC