It is a summer morning in La Villita, the sun sneaks through the window of a computer room where seven women learn to use recorders and interview each other. The room is flooded with smiles and excitement as they listen to a speaker at the front of the room. In this environment, the air smells of achievement.
Walking to Yollocalli, located at 28 and Ridgeway, has become part of the summer routine for La Villita moms. With notebook and pencil in hand, these seven mothers have taken on becoming reporters in our community, and plan to tell positive and relevant stories about the neighborhood.
The Reporters Club, a collaboration of Yollocalli Arts Reach and Enlace Chicago, has been meeting since June 27th. Stephanie Manriquez, journalist and freelance writer in Chicago; part of the editorial committee of Contratiempo magazine and instructor of the radio and journalism program at Yollocalli Arts Reach, shares journalism tools and techniques in Spanish that allow participants to tell their stories and share them through the Little Village Community Portal (littlevillagecommunityportal.org).
Every Monday and Wednesday, this group of reporters meets from 10 am to 1 pm to learn collectively and share stories. During the weeks that the class has been carried out, the participants have had the opportunity to also learn about digital and audio tools that have helped them develop their reporting topics.
For Carmen, resident of La Villita for the last 19 years and participant of the Reporters Club, this is an instance to highlight the many positive things happening in the neighborhood. "I decided to sign up because I imagined I was going to learn more about the community ... it bothered me that they always put La Villita as a violent community and I, as a resident, can share the positive. I know I'm going to learn a lot from here and I'm interested in getting involved in more programs. We have to inform ourselves and learn. I have learned from the other participants, and how they are working and investigating their topics. I'm also happy because I chose a good topic, Safety in La Villita ... I feel like I'm receiving a lot of information and I'm learning about the community and support programs, “ explains Carmen.*
The mothers also receive technical assistance during the class from young journalist, participants and interns of Yollocalli, who are present during each class, and share knowledge about computer use and accompany them on their interviews.
Margarita is another of the moms that participates in the Reporters Club. For Margarita, writing is one of her greatest passions and helps her to express herself. "I like writing a lot and I'm very interested in writing something positive about La Villita. We have many positive things in the neighborhood ... I am very motivated with my topic Support Groups for seniors. I am also learning about computers and journalism. We are a small group, but cozy. Stephanie is a very understanding person. She speaks to us in a very clear way and motivates us. She is an excellent teacher, “ shares Margarita.*
For Luz, this class means a learning opportunity, not only to learn to express oneself, but also to learn computer skills . "I think it's a very interesting class. I have had the opportunity to meet more people and to learn. This class has awakened our creativity. We are excited to find who we interview. I, myself, for example, spoke today with a Social Worker from Sinai [Hospital]. I have two themes, one about health and the other about sexuality, and about how you can support parents to learn about LGBTQ youth. This program has helped me learn how to tell a story, “ says Luz.*
The Reporters Club will continue to meet until August 8th, and each of the pieces produced will be published in the Little Village Community Portal. (www.littlevillagecommunityportal.org).
*All quotes were translated from Spanish to English by Solange Piña-Lorca.