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Nicole Weaver is a teacher, freelance writer and children's author. Her first picture book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle, is written in three languages: English, French and Spanish, and was inspired by the author's childhood experience in the beaches in Haiti. Nicole was devastated by the recent Haiti earthquake and is donating part of the proceeds of her book to help victims. In this interview, Nicole talks about her book and what she's been doing to create awareness and raise money for the Lambi Fund of Haiti.
Thanks you for this interview, Nicole. When did you start writing for children?
I started writing for children five years ago. Prior to that I primarily wrote poetry and short stories. It is my heart desire to continue writing tri-lingual children's picture books that portray all children of color in a positive light. I remember asking myself why the children in the books I read were not the same color as me. I feel this is my second calling in life. In six years, I will retire from teaching so I can write fulltime.
Tell us about your children’s book, Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. What inspired you to write it?
When I was a little girl, I lived near the beach in Haiti. Sea turtles came to shore to lay their eggs. I took daily walks along the shore to collect seashells, low and behold out of the blue I came across this huge sea turtle. At the age of ten I moved to America where I got hooked on reading picture books. After reading so many books I daydreamed of writing a picture book of my own one day. I attended several workshops for writers, it was there I learned that I should focus my writing on personal experiences. The memory of seeing the sea turtle was still very vivid , it was then I decided to write a book about what I saw on the beach so many years ago.
Your book is written in English, French and Spanish, making it quite educational linguistically. What compelled you to do this? I was compelled to write the book in English, French and Spanish because I am fluent in all three languages. Since I am a French and Spanish teacher I am passionate about finding ways to expose young children to a foreign language. A child’s mind is wired to master a language very naturally at a young age. A tri-lingual book will help expose a child to two new languages, it is a good way to garner interest for other languages and cultures.
What is the main message children will learn from this book?
I tried to convey the importance of friendship and showing compassion for someone in need of help. It also has themes of love and a family coming together to make a sound decision and respecting nature.
I understand you’re donating part of the proceeds from this book to the Lambi Fund of Haiti as a way to help earthquake victims. Please tell us about this.
My mother lost thirteen cousins in the earthquake . Shortly after the earthquake the superintendent of the school district where I have been teaching for twenty years sought my help. I volunteered to do a
Today we welcome James Webb to the PaperTigers blog. James works for ShelterBox, a charity based in the UK that delivers survival boxes, each containing a tent and other life-saving equipment, in the immediate aftermath of disasters around the world. The signature green box has become an iconic presence in such situations, with hundreds of thousands of people receiving crucial assistance in many different countries.
This year is ShelterBox’s 10th anniversary: to celebrate they have set up a 10-month Challenge with UK scouts. Little Brother is taking part in this with Cubs and I have got to know much more about the charity, as a Cub Leader. We are hoping to raise enough money to pay for a whole box so that we will be able to track “our” box to its destination…
When James, one of the Scout Challenge coordinators, emailed to say that he was about to leave for Haiti, I asked if he would send us a few words on his return: and I’m so glad he did as I didn’t know about their Classrooms in a Box before. Thank you, James; over to you:
When I was deployed to Haiti in mid April as a ShelterBox Response Team member, I was shocked by the level of destruction still evident in the country over three months after the earthquake devastated the country. Rubble is still everywhere and there are still thousands of people desperately in need of shelter.
While ShelterBox specialise in emergency shelter, we also send Classrooms in a Box which help children continue their education and provide some sort of normality for people who otherwise have lost everything.
In my 12 days in country I visited two schools which were each severely damaged by the earthquake, leaving them dangerous to use. One of these schools was operating from a large tent instead which had very little access to basic materials such as pencils and notepads. We immediately provided the school with another large tent and are planning on giving them a number of children’s packs which will each contain a small blackboard, note pads, crayons, pens, rubbers and a number of other items.
So much has been affected in Haiti but the people’s attitude is still inspiringly positive. Having the opportunity to make a difference by providing shelter and basic materials was a huge privilege and the experience of a lifetime.
The photos show smiling children who have just received the children’s pack – and if you watch this video, you can see what an oasis these packs provide (not to mention the incredible journeys the boxes often go through to reach their destinations). “For children who have lost most, if not all, their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.”
And I’m still unpacking. I got back late Sunday and spent most of today helping the folks at the high school get settled in with their new mail server. However I did read this post about the status of Haitian libraries that I thought was worth a mention. Things are better than expected, and better than first reported. Of course, as always, there’s still work to be done.
Like to give your charity efforts some political oomph as well as just money? This is a poster you can download at various resolutions from the Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, California. They are also hosting a free “Cultural Celebration and Educational Event about Haiti” this afternoon, Feb 3, at 4:30 PST. You can also buy nice silk screen versions of the poster from Dignidad Rebelde, and all proceeds go towards relief efforts. Thanks to Robert Trujillo for passing this on to me.
The report states that in the metropolitan zone, over 80% of public schools and 90% of private schools have collapsed. Thankfully, the National Library is still standing, with only minimal damage. Many university libraries were affected, but apparently some of the material was removed from the rubble. (there was another article in La Presse a few weeks ago about this).
They suggest some courses of action for the short, medium, and long term. For example, for the short term, BSF suggests creating mobile libraries that would travel from camp to camp which would help with schooling and to counter delinquency. They also suggest donating books and other materials for libraries in other cities, where many people have fled to.
For universities, they suggest creating a central location where 1) they could provide access to electronic resources, in partnership with French universities and 2) taking 6 months to buy (with the help of Haitien librarians from the Haiti State University) a whole new collection (that would be housed in the outskirts of Paris) and create a catalogue. Once a building is built in Port-au-Prince, the whole collection would be moved and ready to use.
Here's the image I'll be sending in for the benefit auction hosted by Ridge Art in Oak Park Il. We were asked to create a piece if art depicting "The Tree of Life" a popular motif in Haitian art. The Tree of Life exhibit and auction features the work of twenty children’s illustrators, each interpreting the theme in her or his unique, child-friendly style. The art will be sold at silent auction during the Oak Park Arts District’s annual “What’s Blooming” art walk on Friday, May 21, and Saturday, May 22, at Ridge Art, 21 Harrison Street, Oak Park. The exhibit and auction hours are Friday, 6-10 pm, and Saturday, 12-8 pm. All proceeds from the auction will go directly to the Art Creation Foundation for Children in Jacmel, Haiti.
Ridge Art specializes in Haitian Art. The owner, Laurie Beasley, travels to Haiti twice a year to purchase art for her gallery. She has stocked the gallery with new steel drum metal pieces depicting “The Tree of Life” to complement the auction and exhibit. Ridge Art - Hours & Location:
Thursdays and Fridays from 12:00 p.m. – 6 p.m., Saturdays from 12:00 noon – 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and by appointment. The gallery stays open until 9 p.m. the third Friday of every month while it participates in Third Friday Art Walks in the Oak Park Arts District. The gallery is located one block north of the Austin I-290 exit (Austin & Harrison) and is accessible by public transportation from the Austin exit of the Forest Park Blue Line. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Laurie Beasley at 708-601-9071 Owner Ridge Art 21 Harrison Street (in “Oak Park’s Arts District”) Oak Park, IL 60304 708-848-4062 Toll-free 1-888-269-0693
If you’re like us, your heart is breaking at the suffering and devastation in Haiti caused by the massive earthquake. That’s why from now until the end of February, MJM Books will donate $1 from every book sold directly to the Red Cross’s Haiti Relief and Development fund.
To be clear, if you REALLY want to do the most good with your $15.95, you should go directly to the above link and donate it all, or Text “HAITI” to 90999 to send $10 to the Red Cross Earthquake Relief. After we’ve all done that, if you had been thinking about buying a child in your life one of our special books, you can know that you’ll be helping just a little more.
For more information about donating to Haiti, avoiding donation scams, and why money is more important than canned goods, go here.
And then, last night, in the dark, they liberate a brother and his sister from the rubble of a store. They have survived the weight of what must have seemed the entire world for seven days. They have lived—what?—in darkness, in silence, in stopped time, in forever time, in the ultimate not knowing?
He is wearing a yellow T-shirt; he is a lantern of light. He opens his arms wide. I am alive.
Today, in an update letter from the International Rescue Committee, one of the organizations to which I've contributed following a lead from my novelist friend Melissa Walker, I read this:
IRC Team leader Gillian Dunn reports, "People are gathering in any public space, including parks and the sides of roads. At dusk, families place cinder blocks in the road to prevent traffic from coming through. Then they lay their bed sheets down so they can sleep."
What is it, to lay beneath the moon and to wait for the crack of sun that is tomorrow in Haiti?
We are accepting submissions on a rolling basis through the end of January. Please send your piece's information (title, dimensions, medium, price & shipping cost, with a JPG of the work) to girlsdrawingirls at gmail. If you have a specific charity you would like your piece to go towards that is not American Red Cross, please specify.
Artists will be responsible for shipping their artwork once sold. GDG will send artists the shipping fee and mailing address of donors.
We are accepting submissions on a rolling basis through the end of January. Please send your piece's information (title, dimensions, medium, price & shipping cost, with a JPG of the work) to girlsdrawingirls at gmail. If you have a specific charity you would like your piece to go towards that is not American Red Cross, please specify!
Artists will be responsible for shipping their artwork once sold. GDG will send artists the shipping fee and mailing address of donors.
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Do Something meeting here in New York and got a chance to sneak a peek behind the scenes of the hard-working youth activist org (Ypulse exclusive: look for an anti-texting and driving... Read the rest of this post
Guest Blogger Lydia Breiseth is the manager of the bilingual English-Spanish website Colorín Colorado, whose mission is to provide educators and parents with information about teaching English language learners to read and succeed. Ms. Breiseth began her career teaching English to adults in Ecuador with the educational exchange program WorldTeach, and has subsequently taught English and Spanish in a variety of educational and family literacy programs to students of all ages. Prior to working at Colorín Colorado, Ms. Breiseth served as the Community Affairs Liaison at Telemundo Washington DC, managing outreach initiatives to the region’s Hispanic community.
As I read through the deluge of news reports and heartbreaking stories during the early aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, one particular report from Florida stood out:
Phones rang off the hook at Evans High, the Pine Hills school with a significant Haitian population that immediately set up a donations site after the earthquake. More than 650 Evans students — about one-third of its student body — are Haitian.
To think of such a huge percentage of a school’s population being affected by the earthquake is staggering; what really struck me, however, was that image of community members being so moved and concerned for the students in their school that they picked up the phone, called the school, and found out what they could do to help the students affected by the earthquake.
By offering support and donations to their local school, these community members made a powerful statement: we will care for all of the students in our schools – no matter who they are, and no matter where they are from. It is an especially important message in these days of heated immigration debates and discussions about our obligations (or lack thereof) to children of immigrants in this country.
In subsequent days, I have seen other such stories from around the nation – not just Florida and New York, but Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and Maryland. Communities have mobilized to support their Haitian families, and their commitment to their neighbors is a welcome glimmer during a period of tragedy and loss.
As the communities rally, educators now have a daunting task to build a support network for students affected by the earthquake, and continue discussion with other students who want to better understand what has happened in Haiti. For ideas and resources that will help those efforts, take a look at the following articles from Colorín Colorado and Reading Rockets:
We are hearing a lot about the damage, injuries and life lost in Haiti because of a major earthquake. I am sure many children have been made fearful by the news coverage. We need to give them information to take away their fear. I would advise parents to allow their children to participate in efforts to help the people of Haiti. When we are helping others we are less worried about our own well-being. Susan Berger has written a wonderful book about earthquakes so I asked her to share some of her knowledge with the rest of us.
SHARI: Susan, if I’m not mistaken you live in Southern California, a place known for some major earthquakes, have you ever been in an earthquake? Can tell us about it?
SUSAN: We are well known as Earthquake country. However the only quakes we need to worry about are the big quakes. That would be an earthquake measuring over 6.2 on the Richter scale. The lesser quakes are scary, but rarely do significant damage. A 5.5 to 6.1 is considered “Very Strong” according to the USGS chart. Any quake over 5.5 can cause your electricity to snap off and may cause damage to a building. .
Oddly enough I do not think Sacramento gets earthquakes. But the coastal cities certainly do. Northern California had a 6.5 two weeks ago. The last major quake in Los Angeles was in 1994. We are overdue for another one.
SHARI: I use to live in Southern California myself, but I was fortunate to be away when big quakes struck. I did experience some less intense quakes. I think the largest was a 3.6 in the San Fernando Valley in 1963. I recall waves in the swimming pool and light fixtures swinging back and forth, but I don’t think there was any damage. Earthquakes are not exclusive to California and Haiti. Where else do they occur?
SUSAN: Here is a map from FEMA showing earthquake probability in the United States. As you can see, activity is fairly wide spread. There are only four states which have not had an earthquake. However most of them are too small to be noticed. Humans rarely feel an earthquake lower than a 3.0
Here is a global map for Earthquake probability. As you can see, China, Japan and a great part of Europe are Marked in red as is the entire North and South American coast
SHARI: Are some places better equipped to deal with earthquakes than others? Why?
SUSAN: Yes. California, Alaska, Oregon and Japan know they will have earthquakes. They spent a lot of time and money preparing for earthquakes. The seismic building code is frequently updated.
Some parts of the world such as Haiti, and Italy, Czechoslovakia and Mexico rarely see devastating quakes. Many of the building structures are very old and no one thought of upgrading the structure to make them safe for earthquakes. In our own country there was an earthquake in New Madrid Missouri which was probably an 8. something in 1811. (Of course we were not measuring them at that time) This series of quakes caused the ground to shake for eight days and caused the Mississippi to run backward. There is a strong possibility that Missouri might have another large quake. I am not sure that buildings in that area have been retrofitted to with
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Gilette presents 'Uncut' (targeting young guys with a digital documentary series spotlighting artists like will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. Also Dr Pepper announces a year-long partnership with Electronic Arts to hook games up with exclusive online... Read the rest of this post
Avon hits the 'Mark' (nice profile of Avon's successful campus rep program in the New York Times, reg. required. Plus Mullen launches a blog to help clients understand "The Next Great Generation")
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I have never been particularly good at living the gorgeous day—the forgiveness of a blue sky, the bulb of a warmer sun —when not all that far away, across an ocean, on an island, a world has disappeared, entire. Houses slid down mountainsides, families trapped in rubble, a presidential palace clobbered and chunked, tens of thousands dead, and millions homeless.
How do you live, how do you worry the everyday worries, how do you oblige the routines, when the news comes in of sudden amputees and missing children and mothers and fathers vanished? How do you?
They say that money is nothing right now. That water is what is needed. Water and also rights of way amid destruction to rescue those who are still holding on, and also more time to rescue.
"I want to do something," I said to my son. "Something."
He stood. He reached for his wallet. "I want to do something, too," he said.
I’m an emphatic person by nature so when a tragedy or a natural disaster strikes, it touches me very deeply. I start thinking about what’s important and what I need to be doing to make a difference.
Of course the latest tragedy that has been heavy on my heart is the Haiti Earthquake. I feel like money is not enough in this type of desperate situation and it also makes me wonder why I should bother to revise my novel when people are suffering.
Then I remembered an 2003 interview* with Kate DiCamillo that resonated with me.
She had just started writing The Tale of Despereaux when 9/11 occurred. At the time, she was going to put the book aside since it seemed so pointless.
On a chance encounter with a passenger on an airplane, DiCamillo was even mortified to discuss the subject of her book amidst everything that was going on in the world. It wasn’t until the passenger caught up with her in baggage claim and said: “Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe stories do matter now.”
It was what got her through that difficult time to write the book that would later win the Newbery and touch children of all ages.
So every time I get overwhelmed with what is happening in the world, I think of Kate DiCamillo’s experience. And then I pick up my pen, and I start to write.
Stories still matter. Especially now.
*You can go to the Minnesota Pubic Radio website for the interview, and you’ll need RealPlayer to listen. The interview is about an hour long but the blurb about Kate’s airplane experience occurs between the 27:00 and 29:00 minute milestone.
Revision update: Almost done! Well, I’m about three quarters through. Maybe I can be done by the end of next week. Fingers crossed.
The images coming out of Haiti this past week have been sobering to say the least. Seeing the damage caused by a natural disaster like this makes us feel small and helpless. But that’s when the human spirit is at its best. Corporations are pledging millions in rebuilding donations. I read that George Clooney has signed up to host a telethon. And Facebook users are spreading the word about giving to organizations that are helping the people there.
Part of the problem in Haiti is the extreme poverty. I first learned about the situation there a few years ago when I was introduced to Mary’s Meals, an amazing organization that provides school meals to children in some of the poorest places around the world, including Haiti. The wonderful thing about Mary’s Meals is that they don’t just give food to families there, the organization gives school meals, so a child has to be in school to get the food. This gives families an incentive to send their children to school — which is also provided free — and the meals not only help the children stay healthy, they give the children an education, so that when those children grow up, they can help their entire community. It’s the old “teach a man to fish…” idea, and Mary’s Meals is making an enormous difference in these areas of the world.
Of course, a big part of the education these children get is through books. Yay, books!
Another organization is promoting the use of books and storytelling for psychological therapy. The International Board of Books for Young People’s Children in Crisisprogram started in Haiti last July. The program trains people in bibliotherapy, which uses reading to help children assimilate the difficulties they see in the world around them. Now, I imagine, Children in Crisis: Haiti will be very much needed.
Stories have been a way for children — and adults — to learn about their world since the cavemen were painting on walls. They will never go away, and they will always be needed.
Keep writing. Keep telling stories. And when you do, think about the children who could benefit, the ones who could change the world in the future.
And if you can, donate money, time or whatever you can to these organizations or others, not just for Haiti, but for the world.
Craft Hope by crafthope on Etsy – “All proceeds of the Craft Hope Etsy shop will benefit Doctors Without Borders in Haiti. All items have been generously donated by the crafting community. If you’d like to donate an item please visit the Craft Hope website (www.crafthope.com).”
FT.com / Reportage – Moscow’s stray dogs – “Every so often, you would see one waiting on a metro platform. When the train pulled up, the dog would step in, scramble up to lie on a seat or sit on the floor if the carriage was crowded, and then exit a few stops later.”
Last night, on the news: the Haitian husband whose wife is buried beneath the concrete rubble of a crumbled bank. Six days gone, and yet he believes she is alive. How can she be alive? Still, with machines, with hands, they pull the weight of the bank away, until the husband, calling for silence, hears something stir within.
A squad of U.S. experts arrives just in time, sends water through the fissure that's been made, opens the jaws of the rubble wide enough for her to call out, Tell my husband that I love him. For hours more, the experts work ahead of the next aftershock, until they can and do release this woman who, for six days, has survived the dark crush of a building. When she emerges, there are outcries, and song. There is her husband, so steadfast certain that she would live, that she would not leave him.
Today, they post new numbers: 200,000 feared dead. 1.5 million feared homeless. A country of sudden amputees. One life is a miracle. One love is hope.
Various partly-composed blog entries seem to have vanished, which means a VERY hasty rundown of stuff, rather than the leisurely stroll through the last few days I was hoping for.
1) Peter and the Wolf was wonderful. No, it wasn't recorded/videoed. I'd love to do it for posterity with Gary Fagin (my cousin! His grandmother and my great-grandfather were brother and sister) and the Knickerbocker Orchestra, if a way can be figured out to make it happen.
2) I went to the Golden Globes for Coraline. We lost. But we lost to Up! so no surprise there. Amanda wore a classic 1920s beaded dress with very little underneath it, and nobody noticed me at all. The Golden Globes were interesting. The strangest moment was as we were leaving the NBC party, the photographers grumbled that they hadn't got any photos of us going in, so we agreed to pose for them... and when they complained that Amanda was no longer wearing the amazing beaded dress she'd worn on the Red Carpet, she changed back into it for them (with me holding up a jacket as a makeshift changing area -- the area was deserted but for photographers). They took photographs. (When shot with a flash the dress looks a lot more naked than it did when I was standing next to her.) My favourite bit was that when the photos appeared I was listed as "and guest".
My favourite afterparty moments: talking to Robert Downey Jr about the Baker Street Irregulars (he hopes to attend the Dinner next year, and I am an invested Irregular), and watching Steve Marchant and Amanda trying to figure out where they know each other from (she'd been on his Radio 6 show). I mistook some Hollywood Power Broker for a producer I know and was in my turn told how much someone had loved my performance in a movie I wasn't actually in. So it goes.
(I've hung onto the envelope with the Golden Globes and afterparty invitations and such in, and I'll donate it to be auctioned for Haiti.)
3) The New Yorker profile is out. It's pretty good actually, although given the amount of time I was on the phone with the New York Times Fact Checker for, I'm surprised at the number of things Dana still got a little bit wrong (from the Golden Age Sandman "killing" people with his gas gun on up, or down). I found myself feeling protective of the readers, and was disappointed that there wasn't actually more about the stories in there: the huge signings and bloggings and book-sales numbers such are a tiny by-product of the stories, and, for me, not the most interesting bit (it would be like seeing someone describing a classical concert: the funny man with the stick waving it around at the front, and all the people in their best clothes sitting patiently while other people blow or pluck or scrape or bang at things on the stage, which all seems a bit peculiar if you aren't talking about the music). Glad it's done, though.
4) Over on eBay Dave McKean is auctioning a drawing from The Graveyard Book for the Haitian Health Foundation. He has no plans to sell any of the other Graveyard Book drawings -- this is the only one he's offered for sale. The Add a Comment