I am currently taking a workshop with AVID around Empowering Students through culturally relevant teaching.  I have remembered doing this type of work at a previous school but it is always good to have reminders of strategies so that we empower students of all types in our classroom.  One of my favorites strategies that I always get engulfed in is the “I am Poem”.  I have done one in middle school, in college, in my teaching job 7 years ago, and now.  I’m always amaze by how much I’ve evolved my own identity and my self-awareness through this exercise.

Heather, our facilitator, gave us a scaffold which may work for many of our students especially our ELL and SPED student who need structure.  But for people with advanced language acquisition, creativity is only limited by the imagination of the author.  I want to share you my I Am Poem called “Dark Caramel”.

I Am Poem

What people see is not always what they believe,
Assumptions made based upon the skin I wear,
Some say tan, some say brown, some say your hella dark,  I say dark caramel.
Dark, Quiet at times, contemplating, hibernating, lost in my hidden world,
Your not invited unless I know you very well,
Dark, Observant, always listening, looking and finding connections,
Caramel, a Hobbit, viscous, finding comfort, homeostasis, balanced
Caramel, sweet, sentimental, and approachable
Until something warms me up, I’m hot, potentials flows,
Sliding down mountains, a blob, reshaping, morphing, ever changing, fitting the mold of this ever evolving world,
Yet it’s just a color, an adaptation,
An adaptation, melatonin, restraining light from the sphere that gives us life,
Restraining light from a sphere that break the chains of our phenotypical trait that gives us death,
An adaptation, a gradient of color measure longitudinally from the distance of our equator.
I am more than what my color might says.
I am more than a DMV paper form that might say checkbox, Asian/Pacific Islander,
Where’s Filipino?
I am more than a Filipino because there are thousands of islands and probably a thousand types of Filipinos,
I am Illocano, I point north,
I am Illocano, tribal, fierce and a fighter,
I am Illocano, family is priority,
I am Illocano, beyond eating lumpia, adobo and dog as some people might say,
I am Illocano,  full of rich flavors and smells,
Sauteed with patis, tomatoes, onions, and garlic,
Based in the mix scent of bay leaves, soy sauce vinegar, and grounded pepper,
And rice mixed with coconut milk and the sweeten with brown sugar, my dark carmel,
I reflect and honor my family,
Their ethics and value,
A family that prays together, stays together,
Their struggles,
Hands worned, wrinkled and caliced
From the falling,
From the rising,
From the stumbling,
and from the climbing
I am a reflection,
Like  mom, nanay and grandma, the dark caramels of my life, sweet, sentimental, and approachable,
Like dad, tatay, and grandpa, the dark caramels of my life, like a hobbit, viscous, finding comfort, homeostasis, and balanced,
I am