Poetry Helps Students Communicate Their Experiences
By Manoushka Saintil – Registered Marriage & Family Therapist / District Administrator, Delinquency Court Liaison, Broward County Public Schools / Jason Taylor Foundation Board Member
The first time I attended a spoken word event was when I was in high school. It would be 18 years before I would have the opportunity to have another experience that I can only describe as “mystical.” I wanted to be a spoken word artist! I wanted to learn how to speak that way! Why was this never an option for me growing up? These are all the questions that I asked myself 18 years ago. However, I can say that my questions were immediately answered when I attended the Jason Taylor Foundation’s bluapple Poetry Network Louder Than A Bomb Florida Finals at Nova Southeastern University several years ago. I sat in the audience watching students, one after another, individuals and groups, create a recipe of words that would leave everyone within the sound of their voices with an unprocessed ball of emotions. I was in love again. I wanted to be a part of this movement. I thought to myself, “How can I ensure that this is accessible to every student in Broward County?”
I was born in Port-de-Paix Haiti and migrated to the United States at the age of one. I say migrated, but I was smuggled into this country like many other undocumented children. My parents wanted to give me a life that they could only dream about. I spent 12 years in the public education system looking for answers. My parents were students of the United States and knew less than I did as it relates to being American. English is my second language, and everyone treated me like I could not understand or speak English for the first five years of my life. I spent most of my time watching Channel 7 News, pretending to be a news anchor, repeating every word, learning new words and how to speak and smile at the same time. This created a wall of protection. No one would ever question my ability to speak and communicate in English.
In 2002, I joined the military and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, yet another attempt to become “All-American.” My purpose in sharing this brief overview of my background is to reinforce the importance of providing students a platform to vocalize their experiences. The ability to identify with a world that you have inherited by default is an insurmountable task that I cannot put into words. As a product of Broward County Public Schools, my secondary education and community work have provided me with a sound foundation in working with various organizations to meet the needs of students in Broward County. In my current role as the District Delinquency Court Liaison, I spend most of my time working with student, families and community stakeholders identifying ways to support students academically, mentally and emotionally. The most common thread is that they struggle to express themselves or provide an accurate description of their needs.
The Jason Taylor Foundation and its bluapple Poetry Network are near and dear to my heart. Speaking is something that you learn during your early life stages, but mastering the art of communication is something that you spend a lifetime pursuing. Through bluapple, the Jason Taylor Foundation will change the way children communicate and view the world, and all we must do is provide access. Your contribution and donation will ensure that every child has the option to participate in programming like this. Join this movement of giving students a voice by becoming a sponsor or making a contribution that will touch generations to come.
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About the Author
Manoushka Saintil is a mother first, a veteran, a teacher, a community advocate and a game changer. She inherited the title American by coming to this country when she was only one year old. She has never allowed hardship to stand in the way of her pursuit to greatness. She has been employed since she was 14 years old and believes that determination is the most important variable that can change the trajectory of one’s life.
It is her sincere desire that her life’s work will be evident in the lives she touches. She has worked for the School Board of Broward County since she was 19 years old. During this time, she has moved up in the ranks from Receptionist, General Clerk II, Secretary V, Brace Advisor, Teacher and now Family Therapist. During this time she served in the military while working towards completing her Undergraduate Degree in Public Administration at Union Institute and University. Following her return from Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, she returned to school and completed her Masters of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Thomas University.