Author Fest Features Local Connections

Claire Mueller and Rachel Szymanski

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The campus library hosted its 2nd annual Authors’ Festival on March 9 from 6:30-8:00pm. 3 local authors attended the event.

“I think it was a big success. The reason why I say that is because I felt like everyone who was there took something from it. Whether it was meeting interesting people, or realizing that we all have a story worthy of a book. I thought that all 3 of our visitors were very encouraging to both to the adults and the students that were there,” said librarian Sarah Morgan.

“I thought it was an interesting experience. It was good to listen to what the authors had to say, and I thought it was definitely inspirational to hear about the woman who moved from Cambodia,” said sophomore Caleb Eliazer. “I think it was inspiring to hear about people who weren’t necessarily the best in school who still found a way to peruse their passion, whether it be writing or anything else.”

The 3 authors in attendance were Dana Dowell, Robin Martinez Rice, and Brenda Oum. Dowell wrote Yoga Girl, Rice wrote Imperfecta, and Oum was the inspiration for the protagonist in the novel Remember to Remember, a story about life in Cambodia.

According to Dowell, she found her inspiration for Yoga Girl in her struggle at Miramonte. “I had a very challenging time in high school, with learning disabilities that were undiagnosed. I wrote this book, because I felt like yoga really helped me get through later in life, helped me become more focused, and not as distracted. I had a very hard time focusing in high school but I was an athlete so I got by on that, but my academics were challenging for me,” she said.

Rice felt differently about her high school years. “I really loved school, and I read all the time. I wasn’t an A student, I did the minimum to get B’s and that was good enough for me. So I didn’t get a lot of scholarships to go off to Davis or any of the things that would be nice, but I did go to Mills College in Oakland,” she said.

Oum had a completely different experience in her formative years. “I came from Cambodia and I was not born here. I came here when I was 16 years old and when I came here I didn’t speak any English but I could write and read a little bit,” she said. “So I went to my school and it was so difficult for me, even the locker I couldn’t open. So everything is difficult, but I pushed myself to learn the thing I’m not used to learning in Cambodia or in the camps and when I came here I see that the school is really big so I had to tell myself the get a diploma no matter what. So school here in the United States is really amazing and to have this opportunity. In my country we did not have a big school like this. But now they do but for the poor people it’s hard to get into the school.”

Eliazer was moved by Oum’s story. “I think the woman who moved from Cambodia was the most inspirational. She definitely lived a hard life but now she made it big in America and that’s good for her and inspirational to work hard,” he said.

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