×
Grades 10–12
Memoir, Narrative
Writing

I’m Not Home But I Am

by Sally Phan, 826 Boston

I’m 17 years old and a senior. Outside of school, I like to play tennis and watch Netflix. I like being on Rubix because it helps me become a better writer and there isa nice, supportive community.

I went to Vietnam when I was 6. All I could remember was eating strawberries in front of my aunt’s house, my cousins braiding my hair, drinking a mango smoothie, and some random memories that come and go in pieces. It was the best time of my life. Yet when I was on the plane, on my way back 8 years later, I wondered what would change and what would be the same. I wondered if I would like it as much as when I was younger or if I would love it even more. But when the plane landed and I was getting off, there was a smell that was so familiar, a smell I had remembered from when I stepped off the plane when I was 6. The air was warm, but the humidity was high, which were super common weather conditions in Vietnam as it’s a place where there’s lots of rainfall during the hot summer months.

Stepping out of the airport and getting my first breath of fresh air, I remembered the feeling. This rush of nostalgia came over me. The feeling of excitement and hurry, the feeling of wanting to enjoy adventure, the feeling of being a kid. It felt like I was 6 all over again. Now, I remember the feeling of home even when being halfway across the world. I realized that no matter how long it has been, my connection with Vietnam will never change. Talking to my family felt the same. Going to the morning markets and grabbing milk tea drinks made sense. It will always feel like home–even when I’m halfway across the world.

***

From 826 Boston’s original publication, Rubix Literary Magazine

See more Lessons from Educator Leaders

Grades 9–10
Writing
Matricide: Addressing Climate Change

by Maggie Munday Odom, Kailua, HI

Poetry

This poem personifies Earth as a mother coping with the brutalities of climate change.

Grade 12
Writing
Suitcase Blues

by Cristina, 826CHI

Poetry

A student recounts separation with a beloved friend through a nostalgic lens.

Grade 11
Writing
These Walls

by Augustus Griffith Jr., 826 National

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem explores the aftermath and lasting impacts of school shootings.

Grade 12
Writing
Finding My Wings

by Camille, 826LA

Memoir
Narrative

A student finds her wings in unexpected places in this piece about the transition to college.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Nothing New to Us

by Julianna Cruz, 826 Dallas Project

Informational
Narrative

This narrative piece contemplates the struggle of immigrants during the pandemic.

Grade 11
Writing
Finding Myself in Desire and History

by Raheem, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

A student compares themself to the place they live, New Orleans, as both evolve through great obstacles.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Retrospect

by Kevin G, 826 Valencia

Narrative

This narrative calls us to see the world through the perspectives of others.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Henry & Matthew & Santiago

by Henry, Matthew, & Santiago, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

A compilation of letters written by three students across one city filled with thoughts on books, sports, music, family, and musings on Valentine’s Day.

Grades 7–12
Writing
My Family Interview

by Johnny Vasquez, 826 MSP

Narrative

A family interview reveals a mother's painful past and shines a light on her persistence.

Grade 11
Writing
We are not alone

by Jeremy Hsiao, 826 National

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem reminds activists that "to change everything, we need everyone."

Grades 11–12
Writing
Wrong Black Boy

by Oriel, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, an echoing question strikes a chord and reveals the tragic loss held within systemic injustice.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Haunting Picture

by Jazlyn Moses, 826 National

Narrative
Persuasive

One student explores their online persona and the lasting importance of conscientious social media practices.

Grades 11–12
Writing
De Werito A Prieto

by Katya Torres, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative
Poetry

This bilingual poem explores the harrowing story of a boy working while in school to save his mother.

Grade 12
Writing
Cake for the Culture

by Isaiah, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

This student reveals the mysterious origin story of the king cake. Hint: it includes Big Freedia, DJ Chicken Wing, and a massive party.

Grade 11
Writing
Eternal Youth

by Junaynah R., Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

Full of exquisite imagery, this poem explores the idea of second chances.

Grade 10
Writing
I Write

by Sabrin, 826 MSP

Poetry

The written word is a powerful tool, and this poem shares a few reasons why the author continues to write.

Grade 12
Writing
Unglamorous Transgender

by Henry F., Grade 12, 826CHI

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on identity.

Grade 11
Writing
My Black

by Keyshana, Grade 11, 826CHI

Poetry

Black strength, beauty, and pride soar in this poem as a student discusses overcoming brutality and discrimination.

Grades 11–12
Writing
I’m Here to Stay

by Leydi Di Villanueva, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

This creative narrative imagines how the coronavirus views humanity during the pandemic.

Grade 12
Writing
The Reason We Have Balance

by Kailyn Espinosa, 826NYC

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student shares how essential workers’ courage and compassion center her during these hectic times.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Bigger Than You Think

by Sharoya Bracey, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

In this memoir, the narrator recounts the struggle of being the bigger person in a very small space.

Grade 10
Writing
The Heart of a Dominican / El Corazón de un Dominicano

by Raymond A., Grade 10, 826 Boston

Poetry

A bilingual poem that expresses the love of one's culture and people

Grade 10
Writing
I Will Be a Lifesaver

by Yazmine-Gizelle, 826DC

Poetry

This poem uses a fundamental poetry technique, repetition, to share the writer's future plans.

Grade 10
Writing
I Can Only Imagine

by Tala, Grade 10, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 10th grader Tala asks essential workers what motivates them to keep going during these difficult times, offering her own views on hope for the future.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Me

by Numan Khan, age 16, 826 Boston

Poetry

A bilingual "I am" poem filled with conviction and courage.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Great Assimilation

by Kayla Wayne, Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on their first encounter with forced assimilation.

Grade 11
Writing
America’s Hatred

by Quardasha Mitchell, The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

In this compelling poem, the author navigates her relationship with America as a young African-American woman.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Boston’s Chinatown is my home, but it is in a crisis.

by Sarah X. Age 18, 826Boston

Memoir

A rousing public narrative from an author coming to terms with their identity as a young Chinese American woman and what they represent: the community of Boston's Chinatown.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Alemeny

by Izzy T., 826 Valencia

Narrative

A student reflects on memories of home and what binds her special community together.

Grades 11–12
Writing
My Uncle Nilton…

by Ryan, Grade 12, 826 Boston

Narrative
Persuasive

In this public narrative, a student illustrates the hardships his uncle has faced to argue for a path to citizenship.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Sunny Smiles

by Sergio M, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

This piece reminds us that a smile is not always what it seems.

Grades 10–12
Writing
Generations

by Jizelle Villegas, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

The stunning and vulnerable poem processes feelings of loss, grief, and hope for the future.

Grades 9–10
Writing
An Indescribable Place

by Samantha Wint, Grade 9, 826 Valencia

Poetry

This poem uses metaphors and similes to explore many dualities of the narrator's life.

Grades 9–12
Writing
This Is Me

by Lucas Hu, 826 Boston

Poetry

A poem about staying true to yourself during a challenging transition

Grades 11–12
Writing
Dang, Crawfish

by Jordan, 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Crawfish, crayfish, or mudbugs. Whatever you call them, the writer of this poem doesn't like them.

Grade 10
Writing
Six Poems in Search of My Border

by Jasmine J, 826 Valencia

Poetry

A student reflects on her origins to deconstruct social borders and seize her boundless future.

Grade 11
Writing
I Cannot Be Defined

by Alexis G., Grade 11

Narrative

In this narrative, the author uses vibrant language to explore their identity, in all its complexity, through different landscapes.

Grades 10–12
Writing
LECCIONES

by Melody Marcano, 826 Boston

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on their roots and their desire to grow.

Grades 10–11
Writing
In Between

by Joanne H, 826 Valencia

Poetry

In this poem, a student’s experiences in two countries meld together as she seeks out her true home.

Grade 12
Writing
It will be hard, but you will prevail

by Helen, Grade 12, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a senior at South High School in Minneapolis offers words of support to healthcare workers across the country, including her own mom.

Grade 12
Writing
Nosey Much

by Kayla, 826 Boston

Poetry

This poem offers a very-real answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Grades 8–12
Writing
A Challenge

by Shayne Williams

Narrative

Discover what one student experiences when they tuck their phone away for a whole day.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Beat of the Drum

by Aniah, 826 MSP

Poetry

A student is lifted up by the dance of her ancestors.

Grade 11
Writing
Where I Am From

by Rockelle Rodd, Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

This poem uses analogies to describe all of the pieces of the writer's personal history.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Where I’m From

by Charles, 826 MSP

Poetry

A student reflects on his life, stemming from the life of his father.

Grade 10
Writing
Managing to Find Joy

by Luciana, Grade 10, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis gives thanks to Children’s Hospital employees.

Grade 10
Writing
She, He, Them

by Savannah, 826NYC

Narrative
Poetry

Using dialogue and detailed description, this poet investigates whose voices are heard and whose voices are left behind when injustice occurs.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Where I’m From

by Michaiah Anderson, The 826 Dallas Project

Memoir
Narrative

In this personal narrative, a student describes their family origins with an intimate point of view

Grades 9–10
Writing
Thoughts Onto Paper

by Pretty S, 826 Valencia

Memoir
Narrative

Peek into the mind of a student who considers artistic influences in her life.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Christopher & Bryan & Jahir

by Christopher, Bryan, & Jahir, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

In an exchange of letters, three students across one city share stories about where they came from and the places that matter most.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Racial Autobiography

by Bianca Morcho, 826 MSP

Memoir
Narrative

A personal essay that explores the different shades of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Grade 11
Writing
Who I’ll Always Be

by Riti Shrestha, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, metaphor is used to describe who the narrator is.

Grades 9–12
Writing
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

by Ryker, 826michigan

Informational
Narrative

Liner notes that showcase the meaning and musicality of the Jimmy Ruffin song “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”

Grade 10
Writing
What Is Freedom?

by Regina, 826LA

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem expresses the realization that a cage is not the only obstacle to a bird's freedom.

Grades 10–12
Writing
she, he, them

by Jahruwach Hamilton, 826NYC

Poetry

In this rousing poem, a student asserts her strength and worth as a woman.

Grades 9–12
Writing
A Glitch in the System

by Soraya, 826NYC

Poetry

This student’s powerful piece reveals the essence of racial injustice.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Stupid Blue Screen

by Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra, 826DC

Narrative
Poetry

Living in the digital world can create unwanted attachments, as one student laments.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Excerpt from “My Street”

by Justis Porter, age 16, 826 Boston

Poetry

A neighborhood ode filled with sights and sounds of the poet's street.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Woods

by Jesus Sanchez, The 826 Dallas Project

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

This creative short horror piece explores the mysteries and danger of a night in the woods.

Grades 11–12
Writing
I Took My First Steps…

by Maria, Grade 12, 826 Boston

Narrative
Persuasive

In this public narrative, a student makes the case for creating community change by building youth centers in her neighborhood.

Grade 10
Writing
Black Power

by Anthony, 826DC

Poetry

This poem gives insight to what it's like growing up Black in America.

Grade 12
Writing
Two-Sided Latin Culture

by Karina Centeno, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

This poem takes an honest look at two sides of the writer's culture.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Home Away From Home

by Jennifer Alcocer, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

This personal narrative addresses the struggles of students graduating high school during the pandemic.

Grade 10
Writing
All Humans Are Equal: A Call for Immigration Reform

by Cindy, 826LA

Informational
Persuasive

A student compellingly argues that immigrants deserve respect and to be free of discrimination.

Grades 9–11
Writing
Gift of Love

by Samuel Wang, Grade 10, 826NYC

Poetry

A poem about the complexity of love exchanged during the holidays.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Giving Shelter

by Steysi Hailee, 826LA

Narrative

A student reflects on a small moment and single sacrifice that transformed her outlook on giving.

Grades 9–10
Writing
The Rez Girls Are Powerful!

by Navayah, 826 MSP

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Through redefining a label, a student reclaims a piece of their identity.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Dancing in This Hurricane

by Earl Williams Jr., The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

A powerful poetic piece about the experience of being Black in America.

Grade 12
Writing
Still

by Franny, 826CHI

Poetry
STEM

A student spins through space and a treasure trove of memories in this poem.

Grade 12
Writing
Lives on the Line

by Terry Velasquez, Grade 12, The Bronx, NY

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student shares gratitude for the dedication of nurses and gives “credit where credit is due.”

Grade 11
Writing
History and Me

by Corazón, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

In this essay, a student threads their identity across cultures, histories, and places, engaging with legacies of violence and the movement of people.

Grade 10
Writing
Check, Please!, Drop-Out, and Happy Endings

by Aphra, 826CHI

Informational
Media
Persuasive

A student considers realistic happy endings and the representation of LGBTQIA+ youth through the analysis of two webcomics.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Reuben & Giselle

by Reuben & Giselle, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Two students write to each other about where they came from, what they love, and a few mishaps along the way in an exchange of letters.

Grade 10
Writing
Are You White?

by Isabella, 826NYC

Poetry

This poet rejects judgement based on the color of one’s skin.

Grade 12
Writing
The Heart of New York

by Matthew Inoa, 826 NYC

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student describes how essential workers are the pulse of New York, fueling the city’s hope.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Bryanna & Kayla

by Byanna & Kayla, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Two students across one city bond by writing letters to each other about the people they love most.

Grades 8–12
Writing
It Might Not Always Disappear

by Sian Laing

Narrative

When Instagram becomes an unsightly battlefield.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Technology Gives Me a Way In

by Jonas K., 826 National

Narrative
Persuasive

A student explores the paradox of how technology is used amongst teenagers.

Grades 10–11
Writing
When Mean Girls Attack

by Tammy Fong, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

A soccer-filled, feud-fueled memoir.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Dandelion

by Elizabeth W, 826 Valencia

Poetry

Even though we may look different, we remain united with one another.

Grades 9–12
Writing
The Achilles Heel

by Salma Khalif, 826 MSP

Poetry

A powerful poem that lifts up Black women.

Grades 8–10
Writing
David & Daniel

by David & Daniel, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

In this heartfelt exchange of letters, two students bond over food, videos games, and some scary adventures.