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Writing the Way at 826LA: Nadia V., TNT student and Mar Vista Youth Advisory Board founding member

Nadia V. is a 15-year-old student at Palisades Charter High School in West Los Angeles who has been part of the 826LA family for over four years. During her time at 826LA, Nadia has graduated from After-School Tutoring and weekend Workshops, to Tuesday and Thursday Night Tutoring and Mar Vista’s Youth Advisory Board. Fun fact: Nadia wrote the title of the TNT chapbook “Some May Call It Noise.” 

 

A different kind of tutoring…

I was more shy when I first came, and I opened up a lot more after 826LA. I was starting middle school, and I was kind of struggling. Before that, I was doing private tutoring, and it was paid. 826LA is free, so my mom thought it was a good idea!

When I got here, I knew several people because there’s a large majority from my middle school. It was really easy making friends, because everyone is really nice and sweet. I like making new friends, and with this program, you get to meet new people every year. I used to not be that open. But now I am because of a lot of the people that I’ve met here.

Where volunteers are more than tutors, and sometimes things get personal

I hoped 826LA would make my work habits better for school. Like the tutors teaching me tips on school, making it easier to study, and understanding topics better. Because not all teachers teach in a way that I’m comfortable learning. Right now I’m not really getting math because my teacher doesn’t teach in the way I learn. So tutors help me out. 826LA tutors are more specific. And it’s one-on-one, which is a lot better. Testing isn’t really my strong suit, but now it’s getting a lot better. The tutors just teach in a way I can understand.

“Because not all teachers teach in a way that I’m comfortable learning….The tutors just teach in a way I can understand.”

I have a tutor named Ms. Meredith. I’ve known her the whole time I’ve been at 826LA. We’re really good friends, and she’s knowledgeable. She knows every subject that I ask for, which is really cool. It’s like one tutor who’s prepped for all the things I need to learn. Sometimes I get more personal and the tutor is willing to listen. I tell Ms. Meredith about the crushes I have at high school. It’s a funny way to connect with your tutor.

But when Ms. Meredith isn’t here, there are other tutors that are just as nice and helpful! Another tutor Alex went to my middle school and high school, and she helps me a lot with high school. She tells me about the teachers and gives advice. I’ve been with her for quite awhile too.

The tutors at 826LA become really close to you and you become very comfortable with them. They’re young. We’re young. Even when they’re a little older, they still have a lot of passion and happiness, and they’re comfortable with kids. They can really help out with anything.

If I could say anything to Ms. Meredith and Alex, I would thank them for all the years that they’ve helped me pass through school and all the life advice as well. It’s been very helpful. And I’d thank them for not pulling their hairs out,  because I think I’m annoying sometimes, but they never think that. They’re always happy to hear whatever I’m going to say, so I thank them for their patience and their time as well.

A place to learn life skills, “lose the shyness,” and write about anything!

After all this time, I look forward to learning life skills, because 826LA doesn’t just teach school subjects, they also teach communications skills. They help me a lot when I have to do presentations. They make me more confident with it. Sometimes they ask us to present ideas and writing to the table, and I do! And everyone’s willing to listen! I kind of lose the shyness that I have. So once I’m ready for class presentations, I’m a lot better.

“We’re humans, and we’ve been through a lot. And some of those moments have been embarrassing, fun, scary, or bad, and sometimes if you don’t have ideas, you can just grab one of those ideas, tweak it up a bit, and make a story from there.”

826LA also makes writing easier, because we’re slowly trying to make something. I like writing when I don’t have a deadline. I enjoy that we have this liberty, writing about anything we want. To be a writer is to be creative. I like to write poetry, and I’ve been in three poetry workshops at 826LA. What I like to write about is mostly me, my personal life, cats, I love cats!….It’s a lot more personal. But people connect with it. I enjoy that.

And 826LA’s chapbook release parties are super fun! I like them a lot because we’re working for a very long time on one piece of writing. I’m personally excited to hear everyone else’s stories, and I like sharing my own stories as well. It’s exciting because a lot of these kids are very creative.

Advice for fellow writers

You can make a story out of almost anything! We’re humans, and we’ve been through a lot. And some of those moments have been embarrassing, fun, scary, or bad, and sometimes if you don’t have ideas, you can just grab one of those ideas, tweak it up a bit, and make a story from there. Be very confident with your writing. You should always be happy about what you wrote because it was your work and you were able to do something very well.

Launching Mar Vista’s first-ever Youth Advisory Board

[Mar Vista Tutoring Coordinator] Alejandra asked me to be part of the first-ever Mar Vista Youth Advisory Board (YAB) last year, where a group of us Tuesday and Thursday Night (TNT) students put on or support 826LA events. Perhaps she chose me because I have leadership skills? I like taking the role of organizer. Like when we got to go to Bad Robot and write scripts. Some people were too shy to talk, and I was like, “Okay, we need ideas here! Don’t be shy, just yell them out! YOU! What ideas do you have?” I think Alejandra liked that in me. And when we’re in the Youth Advisory Board, sometimes it gets out of control, because we get loud and start laughing so much. I also start laughing, but I keep my cool and I’m like, “Okay, focus!”

My favorite part of the Youth Advisory Board is I really like how we all get along. We’re all not perfect. We all make mistakes, and we don’t tease each other about it. We’re really glad to be here, and we’re just excited about how cool things come out. We’re not sad about the little imperfections, and we don’t get angry at each other. It’s just really nice and welcoming.

“My favorite part of the Youth Advisory Board is I really like how we all get along. We’re all not perfect. We all make mistakes, and we don’t tease each other about it. We’re really glad to be here…”

826LA’s Half Half Half Half Half Marathon was a really big success for YAB where we brainstormed race challenges and help set up and run different parts of the race course. Also, organizing and hosting the Mar Vista Movie Night for AST students and families went very well. A lot of people showed up, and everything went smoothly. Everyone got popcorn, everybody had fun! It feels like an accomplishment and good teamwork, because we’re all contributing!

Advice for 826LA newcomers

Don’t be shy! Everyone’s going to ask you questions and be really happy to know you. You should be willing to say something and be willing to make new friends because everyone wants to be friends with you, and everyone’s really sweet!


Read Nadia’s piece “Blue Nail Polish” from the TNT chapbook It’s Never Too Late here

Read more pieces from our Writing the Way at 826LA blog series here

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