“Teens in Print was out of my comfort zone because I didn't like writing. But knowing that I have support makes me want to write more, and feel more comfortable with my writing."
Yoskar Melo is a youth organizer for Sociedad Latina whose work is published in this issue of Teens in Print. After his first meeting with program director Carla Gualdron and AmeriCorps VISTA Alyssa Vaughn, he, along with the six others in the program, began writing about a topic he is passionate about, smaller class sizes in school.
For seven weeks, Melo and the other youth joined Gualdron and Vaughn for a crash course in journalism in the cozy, third floor meeting space at Sociedad Latina. Established in 1968, Sociedad’s mission has been to support and uplift the greater Latinx community in Boston. Through the Pathways to Success program, Sociedad seeks to introduce innovative solutions to the most critical problems facing Latinx across Boston. It offers year-round programs in education, civic engagement, workforce development, arts and culture.
The first thing you’ll notice upon walking into Sociedad is that this is no normal office. The space is a renovated residential building, giving it an inviting, homey vibe. Students can be seen working on homework, music, community projects and everything in between. The walls are lined with Latin American art, created primarily by the organization’s many students.
No youth program is complete without a really cool mentor and Sociedad is no exception, thanks to Wilmer Quinones. “I want to enable [my students] to become the leader that I want to become, so I try to provide them with as many resources and opportunities as possible,” he said.
Quinones, 23, started volunteering at Sociedad during high school but loved the program so much that he is there to this day, helping Latinx teens. Quinones’ goal is to give his students the means to find the right career. He accomplishes this by introducing his students to programs like Teens in Print and sending them off on internships so they can ultimately find out who they want to be.
One such student is Jennifer Mendez Perez, a senior at Madison Park High. Perez’s experience with Sociedad has helped her overcome shyness and motivated her to learn more about her community. Having never had an opportunity to write outside of school, she feels that Teens in Print has given her the opportunity to “show the world what I think is important and why it should be more important to them.”