jeudi 27 mars 2008

VARIATION ON THE SAME THEME : Imagine you grew up in Harlem. Write about your childhood

MARGAUX ( 3°4 )
During my childhood, I lived in Harlem, to the north of Manhattan. At first, I had good marks but I was considered as a traitor. Then , I decided to get bad marks in order to be accepted. My parents didn't undertand, but I was happy, I had friends. After school,with my friends, we used to smoke cigarettes and drugs to be cool and to be accepted in a group. Sometimes, when I wasn't respected, my parents encouraged me to fight, it was the one solution. Besides, I went downtown Manhattan and the kids rejected me just because I lived in a shabby area and Ididn't have as much money as them.
All my childhod was a battle in order to be accepted and respected. Now, I have managed to have a normal life, with a wife and children, but I can't forget that period of my life.


When I was a child, I lived in Harlem, a destitute area of New York. It was a world apart. I lived in a shabby neighborhood where there were unemployed people, junkies and ethnic problms.
I was used to fighting in order to be accepted. My parents even urged me to fight whenever I felt threatened !
We weren't used to communicating to solve our problems. We had to show that we weren't cowards. We had to show that we were tough guys.
Besides, I was in a very strict school which took a hard line with the pupils. If a student broke the rules, he was automatically thrown out.However, being good at school was considered as acting white, so good pupils had to get bad marks in order not to be rejected. I was quite clever but I wanted to be accepted, so I deceived the others by getting bad marks. So, I eventually failed. Nevertheless, I later resumed my studies and now, I live downtown Manhattan !

LUCIE ( 3°4 )

My parents and I came to Harlem in 1958. Since this moment, I really had to be strong. Harlem was a world apart, so different from downtown Manhattan. Iwas living in a derelict, destitute area, wih drug-dealers.
I remembr my first day of school very well. I was walking in a crowded corridor when I pushed a boy, unintentionally. The boy thought I wanted to "diss" him, which meant to disrespect him. A fight started between him and other guys, but the principal came and separated them. I was afraid. I have seen so many fights start just because of a simple glance.Thus, the kids of Harlem were used to fighting to solve their problems.
Likwise, I was sometimes getting A's and one day, I was told that I was a traitor. Indeed, I was acting white, which was a lack of respect for our culture.
My parents even urged me to fight to earn respect whenever I was threatened. But I didn't want to, all the more so as I was weak.
Luckily, thanks to some people, Harlem has become a better place.

VICTOR ( 3°6 )

I spent my childhood in a world apart. Harlem is the worst city I've ever seen. In Harlem, there are no laws except the law of the fittest.
I remember I used to work badly not to be a traitor. I used to fight with the other gangs. My best friend was killed in Harlem. When I was six, my brother was kidnapped by the worst gang of Harlem because my father had killed one of them, which was amazing.
I remember Mr Kostakis was the principal of my school but I got excluded because I had dealt some drugs to pay the rent of our flat, therefore, I became homeless.
I wrote this book to make teenagers aware of the educational problems in Harlem. Today, I live in Harlem and there are still the same problems. Unfortunately, Mr Kostakis has died, killed by a hispanic gang. Then, the school got closed and the war of the gangs has continued, which is stupid. That's why I have decided to build a school which isn't compulsory and only the most motivated students attend it and there are a lot of teenagers who want to succeed in their studies.

OLIVIA ( 3°5 )

I've spent my childhood in Harlem. I know what you're thnking about ! Yes, I'm white and my parents were white too, but they weren't rich. That's why I used to live there...That underprivileged area wasn't that bad. Don't you believe me ? Let me explain...
In Harlem, there's the law of the jungle: the stronger you are, the better it is. If you don't fight, they will hit you anyway. Imagine me, the little white, nerdy boy ! No need to tell you they weren't nice to me, especially because I was the only one who was getting good marks. " having good marks is acting white", they used to say.
Now you're thinking : "Oh, my god! It must have been terrible! Why did you say it wasn't that bad ? ". Well, my dear readers, I'm going to tell you...
Even though it was really hard, ( I don't even remember how many times I've cried !). Now, I can say: "I've come a long way !".

JULIA ( 3°4 )

When I was a child, I lived in Harlem which was a dilapidated area. There were a lot of drug-dealers and junkies.

My family was lucky because both of my parents had a job, which wasn't usual when you live in such a poor neighborhood. Although Harlem is situated in Manhattan, it was a world apart. One day, my friends and I went downtown. We felt a lot of anger because the kids of Manhattan didn't have the same standard of living as us. Indeed, we had fewer things than them. The people of Manhattan had beautiful cars, they wore nice clothes...I was jealous. So, I thought I had to study hard in order to have a good job and to improve my situation.

My school was situated in Harlem and it was created out of a former school which was closed down because of its terrible reputation. It became such a good school that it attracted students from all over the city. In Harlem, a lot of kids used to fight to solve their problems, but in the school, fighting and weapons were banned. If a student broke the rules, he was excluded.

This has been efficient because most of us have done long studies. Thanks to these studies, I've got a great job : I am a writer and I live in New York City.

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