Finalist Feature: Exploring Language & Identity

Category: Communities Create

Description: Exploring Language & Identity: The Experiences of ELL/ESL Students is a collection of stories and experiences from English Language (EL) students.

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We asked Laichia Vang, Editor, “What does the library mean to your organization or the creation of your work?”

“When I started planning and organizing this work, I wanted to ensure that as many people as possible could access this book. If I wanted to spread awareness about the experiences of English Language Learner youth and influence change in our education systems, it was imperative to disrupt the barriers to accessibility. That meant the books were free. That meant that I mailed or dropped off the books to readers. That meant that I provided a significant amount of my work to libraries, especially school libraries that could directly impact EL students and teachers. Libraries are buildings of knowledge, but it is also a building of hope. A haven to explore, a place to develop an understanding of the flaws in our world, and a community that can foresee opportunities for growth in ourselves to our society‚Äôs systems. Without libraries and mentors in these spaces, I never would have known where to give out these books or how to ensure that my books do not fall into the abyss of nobody ever reading them. Nor would I have known about the Minnesota Author Project. Libraries are a place of endless opportunities, a place for books like mine that let youth know that they are not alone, a building that is or is working towards the epitome of accessibility.”