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Kim Tomsic

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

High School Students help College Student in Haiti

High School Students Help College Girl across the Globe

September 2013 it will all begin again, but to understand the “it” allow me to take you through a story that began last June.

Christla Pierre is an aspiring
nursing student at the
University of Notre Dame d'Haiti
June 2012. Imagine the heat and humidity in Port au Prince Haiti. Christla, a promising young college student, hopes a breeze will come through the open window as she studies in the 12x12 bedroom she shares with four girls. The only furniture in the room is a single mattress, so Christla leans against a wall and focuses on completing her assignments. Her stomach growls from missing yet another meal, but she forces herself to ignore the pangs and continues to review her lessons. Christla is determined to become a nurse.
Julia Noelle Tomsic
is a founding member of TFOHI
and has served the charity
for four years
Meanwhile in America, three high school students in Boulder team together and create a fundraiser for The Friends ofHaiti Inc. (TFOHI). The Colorado teens (Julia Noelle Tomsic, Amanda Becker, and Allison Sawyer) hold a street-wide yard sale, and neighbors down the block chip in to raise money.
Fast forward to September 2012. Christla grows worried. Her finances have run out and the anxiety is real and urgent, because she has to either pay for her education or lose her spot at school. Christla’s parents are rice farmers in faraway Pignon. They earn approximately $30.00 per week. When they can, they send food to thank the family with whom Christla lives, but her parents cannot pay the tuition bills at The University de NotreDame d’Haiti. The new semester starts in one month, and the clock is ticking for Christla to find a solution. Christla doesn’t know about TFOHI and TFOHI doesn’t yet know about Christla’s needs.
Christla petitions the University; she reminds them of her hard work and excellent grades. Then she waits for a reply.
Amanda, Allison and Noelle
 Back in Colorado, the three high school students organize another fundraiser—Yoga for Haiti. Little do the teens know that while they’re making phone calls, planning venues, hanging flyers and executing the yoga events in Boulder, Christla is growing more and more worried about being ejected from school.
The University advises Christla to reach out to a charity called The Friends of Haiti Inc. (TFOHI). It’s her Hail Mary opportunity to stay in school. She writes an urgent letter to TFOHI making her desperate plea for assistance. The executive director of the charity, Joseph Provost reviews her letter, authenticates her application, and speaks with the dean of the school of nursing. Everything checks out, yet there’s still a looming problem. All funds in the charity have been committed to other students.
But as all good stories worth telling have a silver lining, this one does, too. When Yoga for Haiti concludes, the high school teens celebrate because people in Colorado were very generous. The surplus from the extra fund raising effort by the teens in Colorado rolls in, and it equals just enough to take care of Christla’s tuition, stipend and supplies for an entire year.
Thanks to the teens, people in Colorado, and generous corporate sponsors (Ben Oliver of Four Star Realty, Rock CreekSpine and Rehabilitation Clinic, Boulder Shares, Kammer and Westover DDS, and Twirl) Christla’s bills were paid covering the 2012-2013 school year. Christla worked hard, earned excellent grades, and now she is another year closer to her nursing degree. In addition to the obvious good news, you should also know that Joseph and Rev. Susan Provost visited Christla in February. They delivered new mattresses, clothes and food to her and her roommates.  
            It’s exciting to reflect back and consider how three high school girls in Colorado helped a college student across the globe. Like the three teens, Christla is simply a girl who wants to pursue her dream. The trickle down goodwill of this story will continue, because when Christla achieves her goal, Haitian citizens will be helped. Christla will stay in Haiti to work in the grossly understaffed hospitals.
We hope to repeat last year’s success with another Yoga for Haiti fundraiser in September. Yoga for Haiti will take place in Colorado during the month of September 2013, and we hope to once again raise enough money to cover Christla’s education expenses.  Please join us at:

Lifetime Fitness in Westminster on Saturday September 21, 2013 at 10:45am
Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place on Sunday September 22, 2013 at 10:45am

Yoga Workshop (time and date TBD)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gripping, Entertaining and Relevant--Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is a Must Read

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina is a riveting story that doesn't let you walk away until the last page is turned. New girl Piddy is the unfortunate target in the cross hairs of high school bully Yaqui. Survival stakes are on the table, so readers can expect raw tension, high school drama, and relatable, real-life ups and downs. You’ll laugh, cry, cringe, mourn and celebrate with each plot turn. Medina writes authentic, believable characters and handles this story of bullying in an absorbing way. She takes us places and forces us to look at things that make some people squirm. But beyond compelling entertainment, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is also an important piece of modern literature. It could be shelved next to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and would also be enjoyed by the same readers of Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King.

We all know bullying is a hot button right now. The subject gets center stage on the talk show circuit, in the news and in schools across America. I applaud leaders for no longer brushing bullying aside as a rite of teenage passage. And I applaud Medina for not handling the topic in a preachy way, but instead as an experience from the point of view of the mark. It’s a book that will make readers think long after the story is over.

Every student in every grade at my daughter’s school had to read Dear Bully as one of their summer reading assignments. Ninth graders at my son’s school read Speak. It won’t be long until teachers and librarians start recommending Medina’s work. In the meantime with such an inviting title, teens will gladly pick up a copy of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass without ever being told to do so.

Jacket flap

"One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is."

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763658596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763658595

If you'd like to read more books featuring diversity in YA, please visit the Diversity in YA blog. 

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