Consider Alma Varela. She arrived in the U.S. alone at 14 to live with her sisters. She learned English and gradually made the transition from living with her parents in Mexico City to Moxee, a farm town of 1,050 in Eastern Washington. Now 20, she has kept writing through it all.
Varela has since graduated from Davis High School and works full time as a receptionist at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic while taking a full course load at Yakima Valley Community College.
She remembers Bodeen's class as a refuge. "It was very welcoming. Everyone just knew each other had the same background. Their parents might be here, or not. We left something behind, and we came here not knowing what to expect."
The class helped her think about that and write about it. "It was a way to say something. Not just do an assignment but to say something that really means something, and learn that our past is important.
"It was hard, but it was easy, like I was ready to yell it out. It was all piling up. There wasn't anything we weren't allowed to say, and that's how we went as far as we did. I know all the stuff we did was not the most poetic writing. But it was all important."