ALEJANDRA ALARCON/Coachella Uninc
I know how it feels to be unheard. But when I began to write, I learned I had the power to change this.
I first made this realization in the first grade. My class visited the computer lab to write stories every day. I discovered I took pleasure in making up stories about fairies and an unfriendly octopus. I was allowed to make my imagination real by putting my thoughts down in black ink.
I grew up in a fairly large family, with four kids and both parents living at home; but, believe it or not, it was very easy to feel left out.
Although I can say I have a very close and healthy relationship with my parents and sisters, there were still dangerous secrets that I always kept to myself. This is when writing went from being a fun school activity to my super power, my favorite form of expression.
As far as I can retrieve my life’s earliest memories, I always had to deal with physical, mental and sexual violence alone. Because I was just a child when I was being molested, I could not make sense of what was happening.
I threatened the person who was harming me with these words: “I’m going to tell my parents.” I knew my words had power.
Although I had threatened to tell my parents, I was actually too afraid to tell anyone. If I did not even know what had been done to me, how could I explain it to anyone else?
Almost instinctively, I started writing in journals to vent. I considered my private journals my “friends,” and I would even apologize to them when I would go days without writing. I’ve been journaling since I was eight years old.
I came to realize that what had continuously happened to me as a child was not normal. As I got older, the greatest pain came from knowing I would never have a first innocent kiss.
However, I believe that writing kept me sane and fairly normal as a kid — as normal as any kid could be under the circumstances. I was a happy child.
In the fifth grade, my teacher told me about writing professions because he noticed my love for writing stories and poems. That is when I became an aspiring National Geographic explorer. As he taught me about the rule of thirds and other basic photography lessons during recess time, he also recommended I joined the school paper. The following year, I joined the school newspaper. I also wrote for the Coachella Valley High School newspaper and later joined Coachella Unincorporated as a student reporter.
I love everything about journalism. Photography, interviews, making friendships and being moved by people’s stories.
After Ivan Delgado transferred to San Francisco State University, I was offered the opportunity to be Coachella Unicorporated’s newest beat reporter and I was truly grateful.
The position of beat reporter is a paid position that requires more in-depth reporting and accountability. I would be asked to dedicate 20 hours each week to this endeavor, not an easy feat for a full-time student at College of the Desert.
But I was ecstatic to take on more responsibility and to tell the stories of a community filled with caring people.
As the eastern Coachella Valley continues to grow, there are more stories that need to be shared. As the beat reporter for Coachella Unincorporated, it is my job to find and project those unheard stories.
This is what I am meant to do.