On June 2, 2010, 826 Valencia hosted the release party for this year’s Young Authors’ Book Project entitled We the Dreamers. The book, written by fifty juniors and seniors at John O’Connell High School, is a compilation of short essays exploring the students’ experiences of the American Dream.
Students, teachers, tutors, families, and friends gathered at the Women’s Building in the Mission to celebrate as students moved the proverbial tassel to transform from students to published authors. The evening started with noted author Daniel Alarcon reading an excerpt of his foreword, reiterating once more the deepening complexities of the American Dream. As he aptly put it, “When dreams meet reality — that’s precisely the moment when things get interesting.” He was followed by three members of the student editorial board: Cristian Soto, Karen Martinez, and Angelica Verdugo, who discussed the process of creating the title and making their voices heard. Afterward, Ares Almendares and Niat Sebhatleab read from their essays. Their stories reflect the changing nature of the American Dream in modern times, extolling both the promise of opportunity and exposing the fallacies of this national myth.
As beautifully put by Niat Sebhatleab, “I can’t say that I have an American Dream besides the desires I have for myself, which include getting a college degree, getting a well-paying career, and supporting a family while enjoying life without stress. Many would call this the American Dream and I don’t blame them. Yet is that not what all people want? Is it not happiness, safety, security, education, and complete success?”
We feel very lucky here at 826 to bear witness to what these amazing students have done, and encourage everyone out there to read this book! We the Dreamers is now available at 826 Valencia, in bookstores nationwide, and on Amazon.com.
Beretta provided delicious pasta, salad, and panini sandwiches, and Tartine Bakery supplied fresh-baked bread. For dessert, we enjoyed Miette’s beautiful mini-cupcakes and scones from Arizmendi Bakery. We’d like to express our gratitude to these generous restaurants and bakeries, who went out of their way to make our evening truly special.