University of New Mexico senior Reina Davis started writing at a young age and is now inspiring young kids to do the same.
“I’ve been writing since I was really young. I was always really really shy, and poetry gave me a way to talk about stuff and think about things that made things approachable and sacred,” Davis said.
Davis has been teaching for about six months through a program called “Burque Revolt” under Warehouse 508, a non-profit that works with the youth in non-traditional art such as graffiti, spoken word and rap.
“Having kids being able to open up in ways that they don't get to in other subjects, where teachers are surprised when they open up you wonder if those teachers ever ask those students how they really feel,” Davis said.
She added that it’s important for students to be seen as individuals, and said she wants her students to understand that what they say is important to her and the process of art itself.
Davis believes that the students shouldn't feel like they are getting graded for their poetry, she expresses that when practicing poetry the stress of performance should be absent. In the classroom everything a student does is for a grade, but Davis said she believes poetry is a tool for young children, it helps them to think about things they're not normally prompted to thinking about.
“I have a practice with the kids where I like to do, where imagining the days of the week as people which is cool for me and them to because you are thinking how do I exist in the world and how does that make me feel,” Davis said.
For Davis, comparing the days of the week in a personified form helps the students to understand how they are feeling, existing, what matters and what doesn't matter.
“(I ask them) how does Monday differ from Wednesday, and why? I’ll have a student say, Monday is the old man who yells at me on the bus and Friday is my little sister at the playground, so it's cool to get an insight in these young students lives,” Davis said.
Putting on these workshops for the youth has been a learning process for Davis in which she said she utilizes her compassion and empathy. She uses different teaching methods, such as teaching odes and making it her duty to make sure every student is aware of that ability to express themselves.
Not only does Davis teach poetry to the youth, but she also works for the Women's Resource Center on the UNM campus. Davis is a Chicano Studies and Women's Studies double major who will be graduating in May.
“I do community outreach, which both teaching and this complimenting each other, so I am basically connecting to resource centers on campus and off,” Davis said. “Last year I worked with El Centro, doing programming regarding eating disorders specifically — this issue that affects a lot of women, with the cultural aspect behind it.”
She also teaches self care workshops on campus, such as writing workshops and craft workshops where her and the group make different crafts that include discussions of what self care means and who has access to it.
“It’s so cool and I love my jobs, I get to form a type of intimacy and facilitate conversations with strangers,” Davis said.
Cade Guerrero is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CadeGuerrero.