Dickens Day of Writing: The Intern’s Story

March 27, 2024

By Berenize Marcelo Amezcua, 2023-2024 CUIP Intern 

Photo of Berenize Marcelo Amezcua by Doriana Hammond of West Cliff Creative.

On February 7, we had our third annual Dickens Day of Writing, and without a doubt I was nervous! I am Berenize Marcelo Amezcua, this year's Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program (CUIP) intern for the Dickens Project, and I had a great time putting this event together with the help of Courtney, Tara, John, Renee, Brenda, and many others who form part of the Dickens Project team. This year, we held the event at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and had four satellite locations in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dunwoody, and San Mateo. Toward the end of the day, we were able to bring all the locations together on Zoom, which was very exciting for the students and reassured them that they were not alone in this venture.

It was a successful event and a positive experience for all the students, as well as for the writing mentors. I heard from several students that they enjoyed and benefited from working with their mentors. A highlight was hearing how one of our mentors, Mark, changed a student's way of thinking in the short time that they were together. The student was appreciative of Mark not only as a mentor, but also for what he does in the community. That comment made my heart warm, knowing that mentors from our community can come in and change a student's life by guiding their thoughts; this also shows how many beautiful people we have in our community. It was also great to hear from teachers that their school principals allowed them to come to the event. This year, for the first time, we had a school from the Pajaro Valley Unified School District join us, and this was a big step in the direction we'd like to take--bringing these opportunities to our entire county and surrounding communities.

I would like to give a big thank you to the mentors, from graduate students to substitute teachers. Many said it was their first time to mentor students in writing. They were all a big part of the success of this event. I would also like to thank Courtney for this amazing opportunity. When she interviewed me last year, she asked, “How we can expand this project to others in the community?” I suggested translating Dickens’s “Night Walks” into Spanish to reach more Spanish-speaking students in the community. I thought this would give those students the opportunity to read and write in their native language and help them to be more creative and express themselves in a different manner. Courtney also asked me to help create a bilingual essay prompt. This was nerve-wracking at first, but everyone reassured me that what I did was great.

I would like to say thank you to the Dickens Project for opening the door to Spanish-speaking students. I hope that in future years more students will be able to open up to such prompts and show their skills in their first language. After taking a look at the one essay that was written in both Spanish and English, it was what I expected: when translating from one language to another, it is sometimes hard to get it perfect, because translating certain phrases into literary terms in another language does not always result in the same meaning. Reading and seeing the work done in both languages made me excited for my future. As someone who wants to work in a bilingual school as an educator and later on go into creating or working on curriculum, it was interesting for me to see the student notice the difference in meaning rather than having an instructor point it out. It also made me happy to see that the student was able to express themself in both languages while writing. Bilingual speakers intertwine the languages, which is sometimes considered improper in academic writing, but using both languages in this case allowed the student to express themself the way they are in reality.