Congrats to our December Volunteer of the Month, Alicia Forneret!
WHAT FIRST BROUGHT YOU TO BIG CLASS?When I moved back to New Orleans I was looking for a way to get involved with kids. I freelance and was spending a lot of time working alone and needed an outlet that gave me access to young people. One night a friend brought me to a Press Street party and I was introduced to some awesome people - from there I was hooked.
WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?
The kids, of course. Their interest in writing and food and publishing. Also the constant enthusiasm that comes from the people who are involved with Big Class. The ideas are constantly flowing for new projects and I think that that is what makes it an amazing space to work in/an amazing group to work with. It feels like everyone there (students, volun- teers, staff) all live to do this work and create - like we are all fueled by a really simple and simultaneously extreme desire to keep making work to put out into the city with kids and for kids.
WHAT ARE SOME SKILLS YOU HAVE THAT HELP YOU OUT AT BIG CLASS?
I’m chatty with the kids... I don’t think that’s a skill, but I think that it’s one thing that has helped me in my workshop and class and whenever I am volunteering. It seems to help a lot of them get their brains working to just chat about food - their favorite foods, their memories surrounding food, etc. Everyone has a story to tell about food, so it’s been a good way to get to know them and have them get in a storytelling mood with me when we first get to work.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED AT BIG CLASS?
I am a hardcore planner and I think that’s been one of my biggest problems because things rarely turn out how I plan for them to with the younger students. Thankfully, working on projects with these kids has taught me that that’s okay - that amazing stories and projects can come from getting off topic or listening to ideas they have that contradict my own plan or idea.
WHAT ARE SOME GREAT PIECES OF WRITING YOU’VE HELPED WITH? TELL US THE STORY BEHIND THEM IF YOU CAN.
My favorite pieces were the ones we worked on for the Encyclopedia of Eats. The best was a list of the grossest foods two students could come up with. I never would have thought to include something like that, but that activity ended up being one of the funniest pieces in the book. I also really love one of the stories my student at Akili is working on for our book. It’s about finding a mermaid in the toilet. She’s been writing about monsters nonstop (very on topic with regards to our book theme) but told me she needs a break to write about meeting a mermaid in a toilet. I’m glad she’s taking the break.
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO WHEN YOU’RE NOT VOLUNTEERING WITH US?
Cooking, eating, writing, writing about cooking and eating, eating and cooking while writing... And I work at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, help out with dinner parties around the city, and travel a lot.