Our readers have voted, and their Santa Ana Woman of the Year for 2010, is Sarah Rafael Garcia, creator of Barrio Writers, a creative-writing program that encourages students to grow through exposure to the cultural arts and the written word, according to the O.C. Register.
The runner-up in our voting was the O.C. Register’s Therese Cisneros, who does such an awesome job covering all things Latino here in Orange County. You can friend her on Facebook by clicking here.
Jackie Cordova, the co-owner of Calacas, in Santa Ana, came in third. Calacas sells products made in Mexico as well as local artwork. It is a great place to find gifts and fun t-shirts, and great handcrafted art that celebrated our heritage. I must say that Cordova is not only one of the friendliest persons you will ever meet, she also pours her heart and soul into improving downtown Santa Ana. She is very involved in local events and community affairs. You can friend her on Facebook by clicking here.
Gustavo Arellano wrote a nice post about Garcia over at the OC Weekly. Here are a few excerpts from that article:
García figured life in Santa Ana—where she grew up during the 1980s—would’ve gotten better for teenagers when she returned in 2008. She had just released her first novel, Las Niñas, a memoir of growing up in one of the most Latino cities in the United States, after trying the corporate life for a good decade and hating every moment of it. (Seewww.sarahrafaelgarcia.com for more info.) But when she took the stage at Willard Intermediate School to read, García realized nothing had changed—in fact, things were worse. “I was filled with pride thinking I would change young lives with my book,” García says. “But the resources for the kids were so limited. The library where I spoke was small and overcrowded. Language was no longer the only issue that kept them down—it was also immigration status. The teachers didn’t seem to care—you could tell the students wanted to learn, but no one was listening to them.”
García wanted to help change that. She remembered what a social worker gave her at 15, when García’s father passed away: a journal, plus some words of advice (“There’s nothing I can say right now that can make you understand what happened to your dad, so I’m giving you a journal to write your feelings in”). The young García filled that notebook fast. “Writing gives youth an opportunity to have a voice without anyone judging them,” she says. So in 2009, García decided to start Barrio Writers, a summer reading-and-writing workshop for Santa Ana teens.
The O.C. Register also wrote about Barrio Writers. Here are a few excerpts from that article:
Thirty high school and college students signed up for the 10-week program. They met twice a week in Santa Ana to read and reflect on essays written in various styles by a range of authors, including Ray Bradbury, John Steinbeck and Malcolm X.
In the end, 25 students finished the program. Stories by 20 of them made their way into the first edition of “Barrio Writers,” a paperback modeled after the class textbook that touches on topics ranging from death to deportation. Two hundred copies were printed up.