Note: Bloc Reporter Iman Smith currently interns at Northwestern High School in the “Writing for Change” course and chose to share her experiences as a service-learner. Her articles will be published in a series leading up to the final performance. 

By Iman Smith, Bloc Reporter 

A group of College Park service-learners visited Northwestern High School for the third time on Feb. 26 to analyze the issue of bullying amongst teens.

This semester the University of Maryland, once again, offered the course, “Writing for Change,” a class teaching students to effectively engage in community literacy concerning an issue. Issues examined range from drugs to world hunger.

The service-learners known as “College Buddies” act as mentors to an assigned group of NHS students known as “NHS Buddies.”

The class challenges students to probe concepts such as rhetorical agency and intercultural inquiry.

UMD’s English Department will host a final showcase in May for the ninth-graders to present their creativity after the 10-week collaboration. This year, performers will tackle the issue of bullying.

Wednesday morning, NHS Buddies accompanied by their College Buddies engaged in a brainstorming activity where each group composed a poem.

The NHS students’ poems described struggles with homosexuality, depression, heartbreak and bullying.

However, a few groups discussed the pleasures of food, highlighting the glory of ice cream or Chipotle through poetic execution.

Subsequent, the College Buddies posed six bully-related questions to open a dialogue with NHS students, asking questions concerning the effects of bullying or its definition.

My group, along with fellow College Buddy Rachel Hobble, debated the effects; specifically, the prominence of cyberbullying at NHS.

Our group consists of three charismatic ninth-graders: Camille Jackson, Samaiya Johnson and Josselyn Morales.

Morales said people use Ask.fm, a website allowing users to ask anonymous questions, as a popular outlet to bully others. Morales said users have posted malicious comments like “go die” on her profile page.

“They do it to bother you,” Morales said. “It hurt a lot.”

Johnson said the cyberbullies feel empowered to be cruel because “you never really know who they are.”

Victims of bullying “should just think the best of themselves” so as not to be hurt by the bullies’ harassment, Jackson said.

NHS students ascertained bullying is still an evolving issue—today’s technological advances have replaced the archaic form of bullying. Bullies sit comfortably behind computer screens and iPhones, scouting for victims on message boards and Internet forums.

In the coming weeks, the NHS Buddies and College Buddies will further explore bullying.

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