Writing for life: A compilation of student writing

Writing for many students may seem like a chore. Cindy Lang wants to change this for every student of hers.

Lang, a part-time English instructor and author, wants to make writing fun and enjoyable. She is doing this by allowing her students to have lots of freedom and write about their life stories. “I want to allow my students to use their own voice and write about their own cultures and their own stories. Most teachers give their students one essay prompt, but I use multiple. I want to use multiple essay prompts to interest the students and encourage them to write about things they will enjoy to write about,” stated Lang.

Erin Gruwell, the author of “The Freedom Writers Diary,” inspired Lang. “I thought if she was able to compile her students’ stories into a book, why can’t I?” said Lang.

That is how her first class project was born. Lang originally taught at Hayward Adult School, in Hayward, California. She inspired students there to better their lives in terms of writing and then compiled their work into a book.

Here at MATC she is doing the same thing. “Writing for Life II” features the works of students Janelle Hughes, Ashley Herder and Aaron Lang, among others.

Hughes created the table of contents and submitted “The First of Everything,” a beautiful story about her mom’s side of the family.

Hughes commented on how she originally got involved in the class project, “I wrote my story ‘The First of Everything’ for a class assignment and Ms. Lang mentioned to the class that we all could submit our work. I submitted that story and then I made the entire table of contents. The hard thing about this project is everyone is super busy and was not able to contribute to the book even though they all wished they could. Still we were able to create something amazing out of it.”

Herder also submitted her stories about her experiences in Hawaii and the culture there. She loved just about everything in Hawaii. “My story ‘My First Trip to Maui’ is about how I went to Hawaii when I was young and then returning back there many years later. It was super nostalgic and I was able to remember all of the wonderful times I had here,” said Herder.

Herder, an Associate in Sciences program student, further commented by saying, “I didn’t know I was that good of a writer until someone told me. Classmates liked my work and then I submitted it. Without Ms. Lang’s class I probably wouldn’t have ever known how good of a writer I actually was.”

Cindy Lang recalled how Aaron Lang (no relation) became interested in this project. “I assigned them a passage and Aaron didn’t actually read it but he wrote a beautiful piece about it. You would have never guessed he actually didn’t read it. His work was brilliant. It shocked the entire class. Everyone loved it, including me,” she said. Aaron Lang submitted his work “La Republique of Dumpster” to the class book.

“I love to write and this class project has given me the confidence to put my writing out there more,” stated Aaron Lang. He is currently in the Associate in Sciences program.

There are many different types of literature in “Writing for Life II.” each student who took part in this project has worked so hard. The book is scheduled to be released around Thanksgiving and should be available at every MATC campus.