Intergenerational Workshop Exchange
Edited & Facilitated by
Melissa R. Sipin
On April 17, 2016, during a warm Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, Poets & Writers celebrated the first Intergenerational Workshop Exchange at Beyond Baroque with a culminating reading, Connecting Generations.
From February to March, P&W supported two unique and interconnected writing workshops—a rare writing exchange between seniors and youth—with a group of teens from St. Bernard High School and a group of WWII veterans and their family members from the Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI). For three months, P&W partnered with St. Bernard High School teacher and poet Mike Sonksen, FASGI, and teaching artists Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Angela Peñaredondo to bring this experimental and intergenerational writing project to life.
In this special online issue, TAYO Literary Magazine is excited to publish the participants' work for the first time.
When we began planning the workshop exchange, we focused on working with an underrepresented senior population, WWII Fil-Am veterans (learn more about their activism at Justice for Filipino American Veterans), because many are quickly aging and passing away without ever having their voices fully heard. My own grandfather, Major Diego A. Sipin, was a guerrilla fighter and officer in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines, Northern Luzon, who passed away without receiving the full recognition of his wartime active duty. Pairing the Fil-Am veterans with St. Bernard's students—many of whom are children of immigrants from all corners of L.A.—was a moving way to bring to light their shared and collective experiences.
During the workshops, the students first wrote a letter to their imagined grandchildren, and in response, inspired by the students' letters, the seniors wrote to their actual grandchildren. After reading the seniors' brief but moving letters, the students responded to the seniors directly, sharing and exchanging stories across generations.
This project highlighted the impact of writing as a powerful tool of self-agency and self-autonomy. More than that, I believe the writing exchange brought love to the body, reminding both elder and youth of the joys of baring one's self to an ever-growing tribe.
We hope you enjoy reading their words and intimate letters—all of which are testaments to the power of sharing across cultures and across generations.
Thank you for reading,
Melissa R. Sipin
2015-2016 McCrindle Foundation Readings & Workshops Fellow, Poets & Writers
Editor-in-Chief, TAYO Literary Magazine
SENIOR Workshop Letters
Franco F. Arcebal
Beverly M. Siapno
Cleotilde A. Bisnar
Teen Workshop Letters
Camila R. Jácome-Arteta
Photography by Tess. Lotta
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR
TEACHING ARTISTS & COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Senior Workshop Teaching Artist
Traci Akemi Kato-Kiriyama
Teen Workshop Teaching Artist
St. Bernard High School
Justice for Filipino American Veterans
Filipino American Service Group, Inc.
And Maraming Salamat po to the following:
Tess. Lotta for her beautiful photography,
St. Bernard High School & its brilliant students,
Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center for hosting,
TAYO Literary Magazine for this special issue,
and finally, the biggest thanks to
Poets & Writers Inc. & its amazing staff,
Jamie Asaye FitzGerald and Brandi Spaethe,
for guiding, supporting, and steadfastly believing in this project.