Selected Favorites from Shared Voices

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I Want to be Like the Wind

By Luis M. Flores
From Volume I

I wish I can be like the wind.

I will travel around the world
and see other places I never seen before,
many people I never met before.

If I can be the wind,
I will take the rain to where it is needed.
I will take the cold air to where it is hot
and the hot air to where it is cold.

If I be the wind,
I will kiss and hug the girl I like
every time I want to.

I wish I can be the wind.
I will draw love and passion above the world because love is the only thing
can change the world for a better life.

Chosen by Susan Lewis, Instructional Coordinator

There have been so many special stories in Shared Voices over the years. In fact, how can I not say that each and every story has been special, because it has been. So when trying to pick just one, I had to go back to the very beginning, to Volume 1 (before we knew there would be volumes), page 1, and a beautiful poem by Luis M. Flores," I Want to Be Like the Wind."

Luis’ poem embraces everything that is the spirit of Shared Voices: his desire to share with the world his self, his thoughtfulness, his passion, his love. "I Want to Be Like the Wind" is the wind that Luis longs to be. As it sweeps across us, we hear a voice we might have missed otherwise. Thank you Luis, and thank you to all the other SV authors over the past ten years. Thank you for “daring to share.”

The Gift of Love

By Ally Sketo
From Volume II

Someone once asked me if ever there was a gift in life that I wanted the most, what would it be? To me, the greatest gift of all would be the gift of love. Oh, how I have always longed to feel special, cared about, accepting me as me, abuse free. Never in my life experiencing the joys of what this feeling must feel like. Now, in my later life has made me want to experience those joys that I often hear others talk about. I wonder and watch from afar, what they are speaking about.

Growing up, my father being the cold man that he was, and Mother being the weak vessel of the family, made life difficult as a child. I learned as a child to hide my feelings well, under the pain that had become an everyday part of life for me. I had always craved for just a little attention, and to feel those feelings of love. Where could I ever find them? I would think to myself. There were five children in my family, cold uncaring brothers and a sister who was equally as cold as them. Others in my family received the caresses of my father’s arm, while I felt the sting of his large hands. Oh, that pain I felt, his verbal attacks were an everyday part of life for me. For you see, as he often told me, “I was his ugly, fat, stupid daughter, too stupid to do anything right.” The others were the smart, good looking ones. I have found a hole to hide in and never come out.

The next nightmare came when I entered school. You see, I was overweight, not too pretty, and very shy. The teasing, unkind words, the hurt, only made me dig myself deeper into that hole of doom, the unworthy, unloved, the world of a misfit. You see, I did finally find that hole, it was a black hole called depression. I tried to block all those hurt feelings out of my mind, hoping that they would just go away. But no, I didn’t find the love I wanted to find, and those feelings remained there.

By the time I reached 14, I was out of the home. I lived my life trying to care for myself. Quitting school I thought would be at least one less pain that I would have to endure, so by the 10th grade, I walked away and never returned to school.

By the time I reached the age of 17, I thought I found the answer to what I was looking for; I met a man who said he loved me and would care for me. The man was older than me, so I thought in my immature mind that this had to be the answer to love. I didn’t know him long before I became married. Oh, yes! I thought this must be where to find love. After all, he told me he loved me. I never heard that word spoken to me before, so this had to be the real thing. I soon found out how wrong I was. Can you really love me and call me filthy names, kick me, and hit me? In my mind, I was beginning to think that others were wrong, this had to be love, for if you harm me and then tell me you love me, Oh, this must be it.

I left before I lost my life at the hands of the man who said, “I love you.” I searched once again for those feelings that people were telling me about. I found it again in marriage number two. Once again, I became married to a man like my father and first husband. The beatings, name calling, loss of self worth set in hard this time. I once again found that hole, and refused to come out. This time it was not them, but me who wanted to end it all. If I never had to look at life or feel the pain again, I thought that would be the end to it all, no more pain to feel.

Finally! Finally! I found, or shall I say I am trying to find that feeling of what so many had told me about. I found it! It is the gift of loving me. It took me many years to realize that I am somebody worth loving. Oh, what a wonderful feeling this is! Now I am burying the past. It took me many years to find this gift, and I will never let go of it.

Never again will I look back, searching for love in all the wrong places, for it is I who I will love. Finally, at age 48 I can experience the gift that God wants us to have in our lives, the biggest gift of all, the gift of love. I am now back in school and loving everything about it. I emerged from the life of despair to a life of climbing the hill until I finish my goal.

Chosen by Kathleen McFarlane, Gorge Literacy Instructional Assistant

A young author writes a profound and powerful piece about searching for love. She dares to share her search for love and finds that love from within is life’s greatest gift.

Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are also experiencing. Human relationships and life is so much easier once we have found love for ourselves.

Back to School

By Henry Davis
From Volume III

The hardest thing to do is going back to school at 57 years old. First I had to get over that I needed to do it. Second, I had to figure out what I needed to do. Finally I had to learn how to study. Working through this process has been very difficult.

It was hard getting over the idea that I needed to get a G.E.D. When you have to tell people you do not have a High School Diploma it’s very embarrassing to me. Then trying to make time to go to school was hard, because I have a small business to run, and I have to be there. Also because of my age, I felt like why should I put myself through all the headache to do it. But what ever happens I figure I should give it my all.

School work is hard for me sometimes. What I learn today, I forget how to do in a few days later. Also I never was real good in math, reading, and writing. So it is real hard for me to understand what to do. It is also hard for me to learn some thing when the teacher is showing how to do some kind of work and other people are talking. I just figure, I want my G.E.D. I have to put up with anything to get it done.

Developing study habits and learning how to study again was hard to do. I had to find a place where I could study and do it right. Then I had to set some of my other work aside, so I had time for my school work. But I feel that one of these days it will be worth it.

If anyone thinks that High School is not important they should come and see me so I could tell them what I had to go through to get my GED.

Chosen by Jean Ewald, Pre-College Administrative Assistant

Henry’s story about returning to school, as an older adult, talks about the challenges he faced. I think he captured the feelings of the majority of the students that are returning to school. I respect and admire each of the students that enter CGCC’s Pre-College Programs.


By Conrado Piza
From Volume IV

Cuando yo era niño de seis años, empesé a captar que éramos muy pobre. Mi papa tenía que trabajar todo el día de 6:00 am a 6:00 pm para ganar cinco pesos. Eramos cinco niños y mis padres, siete en total. Yo y mis hermanos no íbamos a la escuela. A los ocho años empesé a ir a la escuela un día o dos días por semana. Así pasaba un mes. Y me sacaban porque tenía que trabajar. Y no aprendía nada. Mi hermano menor empesó a ir a la escuela uno, dos, tres años. El ya sabía leer y escribir y yo no sabía nada. Me sentía mal y lloraba. Muy triste, ví que mi hermano era preferido y en la pobreza que vivimos le procuraban mas a el. Le compraban huaraches y yo descalzo trabajando en el campo.

Cinco años más tarde, empesé a ir a la escuela otra vez y cuando yo empesaba a deletrear palabras, me dio gusto y le dije a mis padres ya se deletrear. Dijeron sí pero ya no vas a ir a la escuela porque vas a cultivar la tierra otra vez. Me sentí aplastado en la oscuridad. Desconsolado, me puse a llorar amargamente porque yo tenía hambre del pan que empesé a saborear y me lo quitaban de la boca cuando más hambre tenía.


Translation by Susan Lewis

When I was six years old, I began to realize that we were very poor. My father had to work all day from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. in order to earn five pesos. We were five children and my parents, seven in total. My siblings and I didn’t go to school. I began to go to school when I was eight. I would attend school for one or two days per week. This went on for one month. Then they took me out because I had to work, and I didn’t learn anything. My little brother started to go to school one, two, three years. Already he knew how to read and write and I knew nothing. I felt bad and use to cry. Sadly, I saw that my little brother was preferred, and that in the poverty that we lived, my parents got him more. They bought him huaraches while I was working barefoot in the fields.

Five years later, I started to go to school again, and when I began to spell words, I was so excited. I told my parents I was able to spell a little. My parents said, “Good, but you will no longer go to school because you are going to cultivate the land once again.” I felt crushed in the darkness. Heartsick, I wept bitterly because I was hungry for the bread that I began to savor, and they took it from my mouth when I was most hungry.

Chosen by Susan Lewis, Instructional Coordinator

In Volume IV, Conrado Piza wrote of his yearning to have an education and how life’s realities denied him the opportunity as a boy. My own heart wept bitterly as I pictured this young boy longing to go to school and savor the bread of knowledge that he had only been able to have a brief taste of. But then I felt so fortunate to be able to meet the man this boy had become, who clearly had taken a full bite of all that life had to offer and could write such beautiful words.

In order to have broad representation and provide opportunity to individuals for who English is not their first language, Shared Voices has opened its pages to submissions written in other languages. As a result, over the years, SV has published numerous stories in Spanish. Conrado’s was one. It was a privilege to work on the translation and be a part of sharing Conrado’s words in two languages.

The Qualities of a Leader

By Richard Dunlop
From Volume V

A great leader possesses several qualities. The one quality I cherish the most is the ability to teach. My best teacher was my dad. I looked to him for his giant knowledge of life. Lastly, protection is another leadership quality that I embraced from him while I was growing up. Dad protected me like an armor shield and gave me a sense of security. I knew I was safe.

The first attribute I admired about my dad was that he taught me how to work hard with my hands. This gave me a boost in life back when I was a teenager. Also, he always told me, “By thinking positive and working hard, you will get to keep your job.” It worked! I finished raising my kids on my last job. I was lucky that the job stayed in business long enough to do that.

His second quality that I highly respected was his knowledge. He knew how to fix cars, boats, trucks, and anything else that needed tools. He also knew how to get the best buy on any car or truck out there. The car lot would ask top dollar but he ended up giving the car lot bottom dollar. Although I would see it, I didn’t believe it, but it’s true. I got a fantastic truck that I enjoyed for at least five years because of him.

The third attribute was my dad’s powerful strength to protect me from anything that might harm me during my youth. Even though I advanced to adulthood, he still looked out for me. Dad always made sure I was ok and not going hungry. My life started when I entered into his world.

Finally because of the things dad taught me, things he knew and the way he protected me through love and strength, this gave me the tools to help me raise my kids to their adulthood.

Chosen by Dr. Susan Wolff, Chief Academic Officer

The Qualities of a Leader in Shared Voices, Volume V, written by Richard Dunlop continues to be a favorite story (essay) for me, primarily because of the author and secondly because of the topic. Richard speaks from the heart when describing the qualities of a leader from his dad. The sense of safety his dad provided allowed Richard to learn many important things about life that have served him well.

The quote, “By thinking positive and working hard, you will get to keep your job.” Richard first displayed this attitude to me as he was studying for his GED. If his test scores were not quite high enough to pass, he stilled smiled and said, “Quitting is not an option.” Every day as an employee of the college, Richard contributes so much more than “just doing a job.” Richard brings the strong conviction that through hard work, pride, a big smile, and his graciousness, that this is the place to be.

Richard believes in and lives by the college’s mission of “building dreams, transforming lives, and making a different in the communities we serve.” This is how his dad taught him to live his life. Thank you, Richard. You make me smile and bring happiness to my life.

She Is My Best Friend

By Susan Mary Ward
From Volume VI

I have a dog named Abby. She is a crazy dog. She likes to chase a ball.

We take her across the river to play. She likes to play in the snow. She protects me. She is my best friend.

She eats like a hog.

Chosen by Dave Mason, Director of Transfer and Pre-College Programs

I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend several of the Shared Voices author reading sessions, both in The Dalles and Hood River. I recall a sunny Saturday afternoon, June 2, 2007, in The Dalles Library courtyard. It was there that I heard Susan read from Volume VI and her submission "She is My Best Friend." We were all quite proud of the gains she had made in her writing skills and willingness to share this as she read her essay. After she overcame initial shyness, she was eager to offer additional reading (and autographs) to the appreciative audience. Thank you Gorge Literacy for making this all happen!

My Second Chance

By Ana V. Montenegro
From Volume VII

I call this memory my second chance. It’s one that I will never forget. I was summer time so we were planning on having a beach trip. I was so excited; almost my whole family was coming. My Uncle had a beach house, so we went to his place. I remember how beautiful it was. We started the day playing some card games and after lunch, I wanted to swim, so I went to the pool. After that I wanted to take a walk on the beach. I asked my dad and cousin to come with me and they didn’t want to so they stayed and played in the sand. I began walking close to the seashore. I turned away to wave and I saw this distressed expression on my dad’s face. When I turned around I saw a huge wave coming over me. This was the beginning of the biggest fight for my life I’ve ever had to face.

The wave was like a force around me that wouldn’t let me up to surface. I was swimming as hard as I could. My dad and cousin were trying to rescue me but the sea was pushing them away from me. I was scared and tired of fighting against the water which now was now not one huge wave but many waves. I knew I couldn’t give up, I had to keep fighting. I remember I screamed with all my strength “Jesus I don’t want to die, please save me, please.” I saw my dad from a great distance; he looked so tiny (like an ant). That was the first glimpse I had of him.

After that I just could only see white foam. My dad told me later that he was devastated. He thought he had lost me as he could no longer see me. Suddenly he felt something on his leg and he kicked thinking it was algae. He felt it again, so he reached for it and he felt hair. He grabbed the hair and realized it was mine. It was I!

Still today I don’t know what happened. I just know it was a miracle! Everything changed for me that day; I couldn’t stop crying. I realized that life is just a breath of fresh air. When you are at the brink of death; you discover the significance of life and how precious every moment is.

Chosen by Kelly Wiley, Gorge Literacy Instructional Assistant

I knew the young lady who wrote this piece for Shared Voices after working with her in the Gorge Literacy program. The piece told us of a swimming accident at the beach when she was about five years old andnearly drowned. Ana was in the GED program. She worked diligently on getting her diploma and when graduation for the college came,Ana was so excited and it made meso proud to have been able to help her. She is now enrolled in college classes and working full-time for Bambinos.Ana is one of the most honest, sincere, beautiful individuals I have ever met. After meeting her family at graduation I can see where she finds her inner peace and support. They are all spiritual andlive their lives that way.Even though Ana has now moved on she always stops and thanks me for helping her. She is someone I will never forget.

Lost Kyle

By Koleen Hansen
From Volume VIII

We all have challenges in ways we don’t understand. Some little, some bigger. We live life as best we can.

As I looked up to the sky and closed my eyes, I heard my mother ask, “Kyle, what are you looking at?”
“Nothing Mother, “ I said.
“This is just the beginning for you Kyle.”
“I know Mom.”

It was my first day of high school. I wore my long sleeved blue dress my grandmother gave me and took my horse backpack. I was nervous about the unknown as I walked into the Special Ed. Room. I could hear the other students talk, how they mocked me. I pretended not to care. So I put on my smile and put my hand out to them. They looked at me and started to laugh and walk away from me. I ran to the bathrrom. I looked around the room and ran into a stall. I slammed my body into the wall and told myself that it was going to be ok. At the end of the day my mother was waiting. My face lit up and I ran to her.

On another day of high school, I thought I would try to make some friends. I walked into the cafeteria. Something in the air landed on my shirt. When I got home that night I saw my mother’s smile change to worry when she saw my shirt. My mother sang me to sleep. I would watch the other kids at school wishing I was like them, wondering why I was make like this. I knew I needed to make the best of it.

I worked hard at school. In class one day, we talked about what we would do with our lives. I said that I wanted to be a psychologist. My teacher said, “do you really think you could be a psychologist?!” Looking at her as hot tears ran down my face, I felt sad and angry. I told my mother and she cried.

Going to school, my health started to fail. I had to go to Shriners. Finally, I had to have surgery on my hip. I was glad I had to miss some school. Even though I love learning, I didn’t like going to school.

I love reading all kinds of books. I feel alive when I read. I can travel around the world when I read. We all have challenges in ways we don’t understand. Five years later as I was walking down the aisle in my cap and gown to get my diploma I thought of all the bad things and good things that have happened in my life. I remembered my first crush, my first dance, my first fight/make-up, my first A, discovering books by Jane Austen, reading and learning about Manga and singing in the choir. Then I remembered my mother telling me on that first day of high school that it was just the beginning. Now I believe her. I have learned Japanese, and I want to travel around the world and perhaps even be a part of the peace corps.

Chosen by Shayna Dahl, Adult Literacy Coordinator

I love this story because I know the wonderful student who wrote it; I know how much courage it took to write it; and, I know that it speaks to so many who have read or will read it in the future that have ever struggled to learn, be accepted, and have their hopes and dreams validated by others. As a mother myself, the role of the mother in this story also speaks very strongly to me, about the power of influence we have for our children, to give hope and a safe haven to come home to when life is difficult and unfair. This story may have been another “new beginning” for this writer, and Gorge Literacy is proud to have perhaps been a positive step along this particular, courageous journey.

Bread Dough Peanut Butter Nutella Filling

By Sheila Cordero
From Volume IX

Part 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Part 2: In a bunt pan put butter, cinnamon, and sugar on the bottom, sides and cone of the pan.
Part 3: Put in a small bowl and mix together:

1 Tbsp. or 1 Pkg. Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water

Dissolve and set aside.

Part 4: Put the following ingredients in a small bowl or a pan to heat in the microwave or on the stove top until melted:

¼ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Shortening

Cool until warm.

Part 5: Measure in a large bowl the following ingredients:

3 ¾ Cups Flour
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsps. Baking Powder

Mix parts 3, 4, and 5 ingredients all together, and form a soft ball. Then turn out on a flour board, and knead the dough 5 or 6 times. Let the dough rise to double in size. Then knead another 5 or 6 times. Then roll out, and put the filling in it.

Part 6:

1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
½ Cup Nutella
1 Cup Hazelnuts, chopped
½ Tsp. Hazelnut Flavored Syrup

Put all ingredients in a bowl, and mix all together and spread on your dough that is ready. Roll it up, and put it into the bunt pan. Then let the dough rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Then bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until done. The bread dough is great for pizza, bread, cinnamon roll, and more.

Chosen by Franceina Brackenbury, Pre-College Instructor

Shelia first came into Pre-college writing with low confidence in her ability to learn or write. A week before the end of the term, Shelia came to class with a roll of paper towels and a large plate of this wonderful dessert she had made. She brought it to share with the class to celebrate a successful term. We all ate and enjoyed this wonderful recipe. So, when Shelia submitted this recipe for Shared Voices, I knew some of the chains of low self confidence that held her down had fallen off. I have watched Shelia start in Writing 1 and progress through the classes by having sheer perseverance and determination, along with hard work.