Letters Inspire Art and Cultural Acceptance
Twelve female high school students from the Koinonia Treatment Program in Loomis were invited by the Women @ Intel Network (WIN) employee group at the Intel Corporation in Folsom to participate in the “SHE & ME” project. This program was an in-classroom event focusing on cultural diversity and the benefits of inclusion, acceptance and building healthy networks.
Patti Sarr, Diversity Communications Manager at Intel, invited 12 Intel women from around the world to write personal letters sharing their stories of being teenagers, growing up and pursuing their educational and life-long dreams in their particular culture. Each teen received a letter and did research on the letter writers’ country, the teens created collages depicting their Pen Pal and themselves, showing through their art the similarities they found between the women’s stories and their own life stories, challenges and aspirations.
The final phase of the “SHE & ME” project actually took place at the Intel Folsom campus where the students were guests at the WIN International Women’s Day Business Luncheon held on March 8th 2011, the “100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day”. After being paired up with Intel mentors, the teens participated in speed mentoring, toured the campus and hosted an art show, sharing their creations and what they learned from their Intel letter writers with all those participating in the event. All the young ladies came away from the event with a new healthy understanding that they are not alone in this world. As quoted by Kamaria S., “Thanks for the whole Intel experience. I will always and forever remember the SHE & ME project memory.”
The Magical Life Ben Hoover
“The journey of life is an amazing road to travel. It’s filled with mystery, heartache, challenges, joy and beauty. It is magical in and of itself that to live for and seek magic to try to make it more pleasurable is to lose and truly crush the beauty and enjoyment of such a gift.”
And so we direct our story to a young boy, a boy with a childlike heart, silly in his ways, kind and gentle beyond most. Richie was a goofy kid, awkward at times, but blessed with a great wit and talented in many ways. Most importantly, Richie had such a loving heart and such a strong desire to connect with others. Richie grew up in a land far from civilization. The land was populated with trees, too numerous to count. It was a land draped in beauty and adventure. The land was not great in size, but that had no effect on Richie as he enjoyed the land with boyish wonder. Richie was dearly loved by his mom, grandma, and two sisters. It was a challenge to be the only boy, but Richie was used to it. Richie had the gift to pretend, imagine, dream, laugh and explore and he did that with great joy, but for Richie life had its challenges and the biggest obstacle was being unaware of how great of a man he truly was.
As Richie grew up, he began to lose that joy he so dearly loved. Richie struggled with his identity. It was in this time that Richie was introduced to something that would rob him of the joy he once had. For some, life was such a gift, even with its trials, that no matter what happened, they didn’t need magic to alter or enhance their view of life. But for others who had lost their way, Magic became the way for them to manage, to barely hold on to life. As Richie continued to struggle, he began to weaken even more and one day was introduced to the Magic. Richie wrestled with his convictions, unsure of what it would do to him, and unaware that once he tried it, it would alter his life significantly.
After Richie gave into the magic, he became lost all the more. Richie would do anything to seek the magic and its false wonders. He started to believe that life was nothing without this; it was the pinnacle of all there was in this world. Richie became so enmeshed in the magic, that he would do whatever he could to get it. The greatness in Richie became hidden, shriveled, just a spec. Richie could no longer see his life without the Magic; he allowed the magic to became so strong that it took over who he was. He and the magic were one, but Richie failed to see that Magic had become his master.
As Richie continued each day living for the magic, Richie’s actions led him to the place of Lost Freedom. Richie would go in and out of the place of Lost Freedom, until one day he was sent far away by the Great Judge.
Richie was taken to a land called Togetherness. The land of Togetherness was different from Richie’s home. The laws were many and the work was infinite. Every day in the land of Togetherness, young girls and boys had to follow the laws, much to their dismay. They had to work hard and face life as it happened. Richie was angry and scared to live a life away from his home and the Magic. Richie saw that those who lived in the land of Togetherness were similar. They all had lived a life filled with the Magic and their lives had fallen apart. They hated the land of Togetherness, and would do anything they could to get out. Richie too, felt the same way.
Richie not only had to live with young men with similar struggles, but he had to deal with six strange characters each week. Four of these characters were called The Counselors and the other two were the Overseer and the Overseer’s Assistant. These people were strange; they were honest, spoke the truth and challenged Richie and the other boys, but they listened, laughed, and were always there for Richie even in the most difficult times. There was The Giant, a gentle and wise man who could quote strange facts and answer many questions, especially those concerning historical battles. Another Counselor was the Island Warrior, a man with a thick accent, barely understandable, but wise, gentle and strong. He could also kill a shark with his bare hands. The Truth Defender was a man wise and knowledgeable in the truth and persuasive in his arguments. He also listened to inaudible music that consisted of loud growls of agony. The last Counselor was the Whiskered Listener who had the gift of listening and affirming and had the fastest growing beard in the land that he could barely keep under control. The Overseer’s assistant was the Orderly Damsel who was a wise woman having the ability to categorize, organize, classify, label, distinguish, and maintain order, to preserve the safety and wellbeing of all the boys. The Overseer, who was also known as the Wise Commander, had the ability to articulate words so well it could stop a man cold and cause him to think about his life. He also had a deformed toe that would shed its nail every so often during rigorous activity.
Yes Richie was stuck with these six for quite some time. Each day Richie was challenged and he thought he could do and say the right things in order to get through his time in Togetherness and go back home. But Richie began to crave the Magic and see that he no longer could pretend. Richie decided to leave Togetherness and go back to the Magic only to get caught and taken back several days later. Richie saw that it was time to start facing his life and being honest. Richie struggled to live life without the Magic.
Many girls and boys would leave the land of Togetherness to turn back to the magic, but Richie continued to stay. Slowly he began to see what life was like without the Magic and how the Magic robbed him of joy. Richie started to embrace who he was again and live life with childlike joy. Richie became his silly, awkward self again. He joked with the other boys and the Counselors. He was playful and weird, but he also began to grow as a young man. He started to gain wisdom, embrace truth and look at things differently. Richie wasn’t a shell of man anymore; he was making steps towards becoming a man. Richie would make mistakes, but he would learn from them and change his old habits. Richie saw that life was actually worth living even with its challenges and he didn’t need the Magic to make it livable. Everyday Richie would endure life and what it brought and because he chose to live it with joy, he could persevere. Richie made it through the stages in the land of Togetherness and did it successfully.
Now it was time for Richie to move on from the land of Togetherness. It was a time for celebration, for Richie had faced what many could not face, life without the Magic. Richie had grown into an amazing young man and didn’t lose who he really was. Richie could now embrace, as he once did, that life was truly beautiful and live it with boyish wonder. No matter how great the challenges in life, Richie could persevere and enjoy life to the fullest and be a light to those who are lost in darkness.